Monday, 27 May 2024

Textile Details

'Her Pillow, the Earth', by Eileen Harrisson. (Photo: Arthur Harrisson and Eileen Harrisson)
'Her Pillow, the Earth', by Eileen Harrisson. (Photo: Arthur Harrisson and Eileen Harrisson)


Title of Textile:Her Pillow, the Earth
Maker: Eileen Harrisson
Country of Origin: Wales
Year Produced: 2017
Size (cm): 42 cm (w) x 35 cm (l)
Materials: Bleached and unbleached linen; organza; muslin; silk-painted and inkjet printed fabrics; acrylic paint; silk and cotton threads
Type of Textile: Arpillera

This piece expresses Eileen's grief at the terrible suffering in Aleppo; of people enduring relentless bombings, of the tragedy of children caught up in the conflicts of adults, in which over 400,000 Syrians have been killed and an estimated 16.7 million people, including 7.5 million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance. (UN OCHA)

An article in the UK Independent newspaper “Massacre of innocents” (28th October 2016), touched Eileen to the core of her being and impelled her to respond via textile.

In his report, journalist Robert Fisk described the impact of two shell strikes in western Aleppo, killing 6 children under 16 in one morning. The first struck the National School of Aleppo during break time, killing 3 teenage students, wounding others and leaving part of the school in ruins. The next shell hit residential buildings in Hamdaniya, killing 3 siblings in their home just after breakfast: a little girl, Khanom Fallaha, just two years old and her two older brothers. In death, she lay with her head turned to the right as if sleeping and the article read, 'Tonight, she will be in the earth'.

These words and the photograph of the classroom with its overturned chairs, little desks and trail of blood flowing over floor and books, haunted Eileen; so she made this work in which a swathe of earth-coloured muslin sweeps round a small girl like a shroud and red stitches flow like blood. On the other side, ruined buildings gaping with black, empty shells that should have been homes filled with laughter, light and love, threaten to topple onto her.

Tents on hard ground offer scant shelter for the 6.1 million Syrian refugees in winter's freezing cold but, trapped like the little girl drawn in thread, for far too many, the earth gives its pillow for the dead.

Updated by Helen Maguire 30th April 2024

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: c/o Rosina Doherty-Allan, Library, Derry~Londonderry campus, UU
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Arthur Harrisson and Eileen Harrisson
Provenance: Donation from Eileen Harrisson - 2018

Textile exhibited at: War-Torn Children, 1/03/2017 - 15/04/2017
War-Torn Children, 8/02/2018 - 24/03/2018
War-Torn Children, 5/09/2018 - 29/11/2018
Conflict, Famine and Displacement: Then and Now, 13/06/2020 - 27/06/2020
Arpilleras Poéticas, 7/12/2023 - 12/02/2024
Conflict Textiles: Library, Derry~Londonderry campus, 23/05/2024 - 31/01/2025

Textile Detail Image(s)