Monday, 27 May 2024

Event Details

"The word that caused the outbreak of war - 'Freedom'", Sabah Obido. (Photo Martin Melaugh)


Online exhibition and associated activities:Conflict, Famine and Displacement: Then and Now
Description: This online exhibition and associated activities is a collaboration between Karen Corrigan Newcastle University (NU) and Roberta Bacic Conflict Textiles. It was initiated as a contribution to marking the United Nations World Refugee Day, 20th June and the UK's Refugee Week, 15 - 21st June, 2020.

It will harness the language of arpilleras (3D-tapestries) to explore the interconnection between historical conflict, famine and displacement on the island of Ireland, and the same factors which continue to forcibly displace populations on a global scale today. The project’s title evokes a line from a famous Irish lament - Ochón ‘s Ochón-Ó (‘Alas, and Alas-O’) – which was sung at the ‘American Wakes’ of the Great Famine era in Ireland. This was a period of considerable population loss through conflict, food insecurity, poverty, mortality and migration. Few migrants ever returned - despite facing new deprivations in their receiving countries, as William Hill conveyed to his family in Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland from his new “wreck of a property” in South Carolina, on 2nd September 1865:

"The people here are impoverished, not one in ten but is reduced to insolvency… You say you would be glad to see me once more before we leave this world. I need not tell you that feeling is mutual, but it is not likely that we shall ever enjoy it". (Extract Courtesy of the Corpus of Irish-English Correspondence, compiled by Carolina Amador-Moreno & Kevin McCafferty).

This initiative builds on a previous collaboration between Karen Corrigan and Roberta Bacic through the recent From Home to Here exhibition at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, which celebrated 2019 as being the Year of Indigenous Languages.

The exhibition programme involves the following key elements:
1) An online exhibition of images featuring multilingual arpilleras representing the project themes of conflict, famine and displacement not just on the island of Ireland but with transnational scope.
2) The making of arpillera dolls by participants in Newcastle and Northern Ireland, responding to the exhibition themes.
3) A number of participants will be supported to create arpillera ‘tableaux vivants’. They will reflect personal narratives of experience relevant to issues of conflict, famine and displacement in their own languages and in the common language of a creative artform.
4) The completed arpillera dolls and arpillera tableaux will complement the online exhibition and will be added to the documents section below as a photo gallery.

Thanks to Roser Corbera, Frances Kane and Ourooba Shetewi for translations of the instructions for making an arpillera doll and arpillera into Arabic, Irish and Spanish.

Centre for Heritage - A Newcastle University Centre of Research Excellence
International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
Commissioned by: Newcastle University
Date(s): 13th June 2020 - 27th June 2020
Venue: Newcastle University
School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Percy Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle, NE1 7RU, UK
Curator: Roberta Bacic and Breege Doherty
Facilitator: Prof. Karen Corrigan
Outcome: This virtual exhibition and associated activities resulted in a range of cultural, health and social impacts and outcomes including:
•Initiating collaboration and discussion between those interested in art and textiles and others who have experience of language, migration and identity issues (particularly in displacement contexts in Ireland but transnationally too).
•Fostering engagement with textiles as sources for both learning about and reflecting on personal experiences of conflict, famine and displacement between individuals who do not necessarily share a common spoken or written language.
•Three textiles were created Displacement, The word that caused the outbreak of war - “Freedom“ and Our Journey from Confusion and Control to Clarity and Creativity
•Teaching new skills to indigenous and migrant populations alike in order to relieve the boredom of COVID-19 lockdown and thus improve emotional and psychological well-being in addition to measures of life satisfaction.
•Improving communication skills in English amongst newcomers to the UK which could benefit their life chances.
• Generating new social networks of individuals in Northern Ireland and the North East of England who have shared experiences of arpillera-making alongside increased knowledge of historical and contemporary conflict, displacement and famine situations.

Documents: • Textile list: June 2020 - view
• Making an arpillera doll from tights -English - view
• Making an arpillera doll from felt - English - view
• Making an arpillera doll from tights -Arabic - view
• Making an arpillera doll from felt - Arabic - view
• Making an arpillera doll from tights - Irish - view
• Making an arpillera doll from felt - Irish - view
• From Doll to Arpillera: 9 steps (English) - view
• De muñec@ a arpillera: 9 pasos (español) - view
• From Doll to Arpillera: 9 steps (Arabic) - view
• Exhibition poster: June 2020 - view
• "Displacement", Ourooba Shetewi (Eng/Arabic) - view
• "Freedom", Sabah Obido (Eng/Arabic) - view
• "Our Journey", Fran Garner (English) - view
• Arabic translation of "Displacement" - view
• Arabic translation, "The word that caused..." - view