Sunday, 1 October 2023

Textile Details

'The day we will never forget', Collective work by Killarney girls, facilitated by Shari Eppel, Solidarity Peace Trust Zimbabwe. (Photo: Shari Eppel)
'The day we will never forget', Collective work by Killarney girls, facilitated by Shari Eppel, Solidarity Peace Trust Zimbabwe. (Photo: Shari Eppel)


Title of Textile:The day we will never forget
Maker: Collective work by Killarney girls, facilitated by Shari Eppel, Solidarity Peace Trust Zimbabwe
Country of Origin: Zimbabwe
Year Produced: 2012
Size (cm): 141cm x 100cm
Materials: Scraps of material handsewn onto burlap
Type of Textile: Arpillera

This arpillera shows the total destruction of the Killarney informal settlement in Zimbabwe in May 2005, during Operation Murambatsvina in which the government of Zimbabwe, deploying the army and police, purposefully destroyed housing around the country. During this Operation, referred to by many as a crime against humanity, an estimated 500,000 people were evicted and displaced in the space of a month. Murambatsvina means “get rid of the filth’ and the poor of Zimbabwe were left with the clear message that they were the filth that should be forced out of urban areas.

The most devastating and immediate effect of this operation was the fact that up to half a million people were rendered homeless and left without any viable form of livelihood. People were told to return to their rural origins, but many simply did not have a rural home to go back to.

The girls from Killarney informal settlement who created this arpillera all lost their homes in 2005. Some suffered deaths of their relatives, and one, the death of her baby, during the demolitions. From conversations held while sewing, Shari recounts: “The girls have no comprehension of what the demolitions were about, and say they think the government was trying to kill people by taking everything away from them….”

Following resettlement by the International Organisation for Migration and the Bulawayo City Council they now all have homes. However, the location -10km out of town- severely limits their employment opportunities. As Shari explains: “Sources of income remain a serious challenge, and the girls continue to strive against hunger in their efforts to secure the future of themselves and their children.”

The process of creating this arpillera has enabled these women to share their stories with confidence and purpose, to audiences far beyond the Killarney settlement, again illustrating the powerful potential of small pieces of work in denouncing repressive actions globally.

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection. Provenance Killarney Girls, Zimbabwe
Location: Roberta Bacic, Northern Ireland
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Shari Eppel

Textile exhibited at: Transforming threads of resistance, 27/02/2012 - 9/03/2012
The Killarney Girls' Arpilleras, 22/08/2012 - 28/10/2012
RETAZOS TESTIMONIALES: arpilleras de Chile y otras latitudes, 28/09/2013 - 10/11/2013
SMALL Actions BIG Movements, 1/07/2014 - 11/07/2014
Sew to Speak – Human Rights, 12/09/2014 - 14/09/2014
COSIENDO PAZ: Conflicto, Arpilleras, Memoria , 26/03/2015 - 30/09/2015
COSIENDO PAZ: Conflicto, Arpilleras, Memoria, 8/10/2015 - 4/04/2016
COSIENDO PAZ: Conflicto, Arpilleras, Memoria , 13/04/2016 - 12/06/2016
Stitched Voices: Knowing conflict through textiles, 17/11/2017 - 20/12/2017
Stitched Voices - textila berättelse om politisk våld och motstånd , 29/08/2018 - 21/04/2019
From Home to Here: Stories of Languages Old and New, 5/11/2019 - 20/12/2019
The Art of the Banner, 9/02/2021 - 23/02/2021
Encuentro Arpillera / Arpillera Colloquium / Gesprächsabend zum Thema Arpilleras, 14/04/2021 - 14/04/2021
Human Rights through textile language: The Oxford Human Rights Festival , 11/03/2022 - 20/03/2022
Reflections on Refugees: Communicating through Art, 29/03/2022 - 16/05/2022
Transformative Memory International Network 2022 MemoLab: Northern Ireland, 17/10/2022 - 6/11/2022
Mujeres Disruptivas collective arpillera unveiling: Refugee week 2023, 20/06/2023 - 20/06/2023

Textile Detail Image(s)