Mohammad Bin Lamin 43, Artist/Sculptor, Misrata From The Book: Shabab Altoura: Their Story By: Tracey Shelton

On the night of February 20, 2011, Mohammad Bin Lamin knelt
before his captures. A black hood covered his head. He heard the
click as they loaded the gun and told him he was about to die.
“It was a horrible night,” was his only comment on the terror that
must have consumed him. He had been arrested along with his brother Habib on February 16, the night before anti-government protests broke out across the country. The Lamin family was well known for their anti-government stand. Mohammad had been active in denouncing the government and calling for protests on Facebook.

“The first step for the Gaddafi regime was to try to catch people who could be active in starting a revolution,” Mohammad said.
Police, led by Mohammad’s neighbor, a “notorious bad guy”, broke into the art gallery and workshop where Mohammad has spent more than a decade creating sculptures and paintings.
The brothers were taken to Abu Salim, the most notorious prison in Libya. The mock execution took place several days later.

Mohammad was born in 1969, the year Gaddafi took power.
“They told me I of all people should be grateful to Gaddafi for the country I was born in to,” Mohammad said. “I am the whole story of Gaddafi’s reign – my body, my soul can attest to his tyranny.” Mohammad survived the night and was returned to his tiny cell that he shared with his brother.

Prisoners were only allowed out of their cells for interrogation.
Desperate for a creative outlet Mohammad began sculpting his
aluminum food trays into portraits of fellow inmates and jailers, and using them as pens to draw on his cell walls. Mohammad said he was confronted about his drawings several times but mostly they were too busy to notice.

“Some were Ok, but most of them were not human. Especially when they had bad news about a Thuwar [revolutionary] advance. They would open the cells and start kicking and beating us. Other times we would hear NATO bombing outside and cry ‘Allah Akbar’ – God is greatest – so they would punish us.” News slowly filtered in through new prisoners. Whispered messages were passed from cell to cell.
“We heard the noises of war around us. We were sure Tripoli would fall but we did not know what our fate would be. Would they kill us all? Would the rebels reach us in time?”
On August 23, more than six months after Mohammad’s arrest, the guards fled Abu Salim. The following day, the rebels arrived.
“We heard the cry of Allah Akbar so we knew it was real,” Mohammad recalled.

The following day, Mohammad was reunited to his family who had for 6 months feared he had already been executed. After a decade of trying to have children Mohammad found himself reunited with a very pregnant wife. She had discovered her pregnancy shortly after Mohammad’s arrest.

On October 8, the week before Gaddafi’s capture and death she
gave birth to twin girls. “My daughters are a gift from God, my treatment for all my pain. When I look into their eyes I can forget all things.”

Mohammad now makes artwork from remnants of war, sculpting
objects designed to kill into symbols of love and beauty.









1- Abu Salim Prison
“I shared this cell with my brother. I used our aluminuim food containers as pencils to draw on the walls. When I ran out of
space I remember wishing they’d change my cell so I would have more space to draw,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

2- “I drew the prison cell surrounded
by flowers as a symbol of hope.
When the guards looked through
the window of our cell door they
would see this image. I wanted them
to know that I am not sad, but it was
an honor to be here for Libya,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin.

3- “Sculpting from remnants of war is about
transforming something created to kill into
something of beauty – a symbol of love,
dance, humanity,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin
This piece shows the cross section of a 14.5mm anti aircraft
bullet. The crystal is from the Libyan dessert.

4- Soldiers
This piece is called the collapse of the
genocide battalions. It represents Gaddafi’s
troops as they were defeated by the
revolutionaries,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

5- The pieces are not rigid and Mohammad
spends hours rearranging each piece to
create different scenes.

6- “I like to incorporate objects of Libyan history in my work. For this piece I used an ancient stone from the Southern Libyan desert,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

7- “This is part of a series that represents the Libyan
rebel fighters. In this piece you see a fighter
facing amputation,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

8- “I call this series Dance in Angelical Orbit,” Mohammad Bin Lamin

9- “This series represents the bond
between a mother and child
and the way a mother will
protect her children from
danger in any crisis,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

10-Faces of War
“This is part of a Beretta gun that was struck
by NATO in a store house for Gaddafi’s men.
I liked the face that appeared in the ruins,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

11- “This is part of a Beretta gun
that was struck by NATO in a
store house for Gaddafi’s men.
I liked the face that appeared
in the ruins,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin

12- “My daughters are a gift from
God, my treatment for all my
pain. When I look into their
eyes I can forget all things,”
Mohammad Bin Lamin