Thursday, 8 December 2022

Textile Details

'Children on the Edge', by Irene MacWilliam. (Photo: Irene MacWilliam)
'Children on the Edge', by Irene MacWilliam. (Photo: Irene MacWilliam)


Title of Textile:Children on the Edge
Maker: Irene MacWilliam
Country of Origin: Northern Ireland
Year Produced: 2016
Size (cm): 60cm (w) x 100cm (l)
Materials: Cottons - home dyed and screen printed with free machine work
Type of Textile: Wall hanging

Irene’s 30 year journey of expressing herself through textiles began in 1985 when she attended a talk on appliqué by the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild.

Conflict, both global and local, and the havoc and misery it causes to children and families, is a recurring theme in her work. She recounts what prompted her to create this piece: “I had seen a picture in a newspaper of a starving and dying child hunched up on the ground; the vultures in the trees above were waiting for it to die.”

This desolate, iconic image is reinforced by equally stark images and statements relating to the impact of conflict: “They burnt our homes and crops – they took our land” and “the water supply is polluted.” The sense of bleakness is further emphasised by the background colouring, deliberately chosen, Irene says, “to depict barrenness and ravaged earth.” This desolation spills over onto the reverse side and is accentuated with the addition of barbed wire.

Pondering on the power of textile expression and the inadequacy of words to sometimes explain the depths of her images, Irene reflects: “I find it impossible to write why I made it, the expression of my feelings is in the images”

Ann M. Venemen, then Executive Director of Unicef, in her foreword to the 2009 report, Machel Study 10 year Strategic Review: Children and Conflict in a Changing World states that in 2006, more than 1 billion children under the age of 18 were living in areas in conflict or emerging from war, an estimated 300 million of whom were under the age of five.

Over ten years later, these statistics, so vividly brought to life by MacWilliam, show no sign of decreasing.

Owner: Irene MacWilliam
Location: Irene Macwilliam, Northern Ireland
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Irene MacWilliam

Textile exhibited at: Stitched Legacies of Conflicts , 7/10/2016 - 26/11/2016
War-Torn Children, 1/03/2017 - 15/04/2017
War-Torn Children , 17/07/2017 - 28/07/2017
War-Torn Children, 2/10/2017 - 27/10/2017

Textile Detail Image(s)