Textile Details

'La Maternidad de Elna / Mothers of Elne', Arpilleristas Fundació Ateneu Sant Roc. (Photo: Roser Corbera)
'La Maternidad de Elna / Mothers of Elne', Arpilleristas Fundació Ateneu Sant Roc. (Photo: Roser Corbera)

 

Title of Textile:La Maternidad de Elna / Mothers of Elne
Maker: Arpilleristas Fundació Ateneu Sant Roc
Country of Origin: Catalonia / Spain
Year Produced: 2012
Size (cm): 49cm (w) x 42cm (h)
Materials: Scraps of material hand sewn onto burlap
Type of Textile: Arpillera
Description:

In the closing days of January 1939, with the Spanish civil war in its third year, Nationalist troops captured Barcelona. As the whole of Catalonia soon fell to Franco, an estimated 500,000 Republican supporters began their exodus across the border into refugee camps in Roussillon, France.

In these overcrowded camps, where infant mortality exceeded 90%, the Elne Maternity Home was set up nearby by Swiss National Elizabeth Eidenbenz. It is remembered by Arpilleristas Fundació Ateneu Sant Roc as: “the only refuge and space for pregnant women who endured misery for their babies and themselves in the camps.”

Here, the arpilleristas pay tribute to this remarkable centre where, between 1939 and 1944, almost 600 babies were born to women fleeing the Spanish civil war and later, Jewish refugees and gypsies fleeing the Nazi invasion. We see women about to give birth, the new babies in the nursery and women engaged in the general running of the centre; women of so many different origins sharing the experience of motherhood. Overall, a sense of dignity, calm, care and welcome pervades this arpillera, a far cry from the chaos and disorder of camp life.

In the words of its founder Elizabeth Eidenbenz, it was as “an island of peace amongst an ocean of destruction.” For the arpilleristas reconnecting with it through their stitching almost 80 years later, it was a respite from “their [experience] of suffering, human rights’ violations and fears” endured during the Nationalist occupation and their journey into exile.

http://memorialdemocratic.gencat.cat/web/.content/04_demana_una_exposicio/05_documents/maternitat_montjuic_ang.pdf

Owner: Fundació Ateneu Sant Roc collection, Catalonia / Spain
Location: Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Republic of Ireland
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Roser Corbera



Textile exhibited at: War-Torn Children, 1/03/2017 - 15/04/2017
War-Torn Children, 2/10/2017 - 27/10/2017
War-Torn Children, 8/02/2018 - 24/03/2018



Textile Detail Image(s)