Monday, 17 June 2024

Textile Details

'For Paul, Disappeared 8 February 2012', by Shari Eppel. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'For Paul, Disappeared 8 February 2012', by Shari Eppel. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:For Paul, Disappeared 8 February 2012
Maker: Shari Eppel
Country of Origin: Zimbabwe
Year Produced: 2018
Size (cm): 52cm (w) x 52 cm (l)
Materials: A mixture of fabrics
Type of Textile: Arpillera

During the Mugabe era, Zimbabwe was marred by decades of human rights violations including mass killings, forced disappearances and brutal suppression of dissent. It is estimated that 20,000 people were killed and many others disappeared in the state sanctioned violence that began in 1984 known as ‘Gukurahundi’. Amnesty International (10th July 2018), Zimbabwe: Elections offer a chance to break with decades of gross human rights violations

Paul Chizuzu, a stalwart defender of human rights for over three decades went missing on 8th February 2012. To his colleagues at Solidarity Peace Trust, Zimbabwe, he was an activist who “…searched for other activists and never gave up”. Solidarity Peace Trust (27th February 2012)

Six years later, with needle thread and fabric, Shari Eppel reconnects with him and imagines his resting place. “Paul was my work colleague in human rights. We worked together almost every day for 18 years before his sudden abduction. What happened to him, we do not know”. With soft layers of cloth, she creates his grave, she shrouds his bones with foliage, she cocoons him in the brown earth, at rest.

For Shari, his loss is profound. Her experience in the Ukuthula Trust of working with families of the disappeared - of painstakingly exhuming graves, of reuniting families with the bones of their loved ones - has not prepared her for the enormity of Paul’s loss. As she uncovers this story through the layers of her arpillera - a process she has often facilitated with local women voicing their own stories of human rights abuse - she reflects: “I think of him so often, he was a dear friend. It is ironic that we work with families of the disappeared, and then experienced first-hand the shock and despair of losing someone we cared about so deeply.”

In her poem “Signs”, written a few weeks after his disappearance, she “made a promise … that … I hope one day to fulfil”.

For Paul Chizuze – disappeared 8 February 2012

A pebble does not sink without a ripple
A branch does not break and fall without a sound
A mouse in the jaws of a cat squeaks and struggles
A bird in flight drops one feather to the ground.

A heart in despair sighs, and leaves a whisper
A body in pain sheds blood upon the stone
A friend will follow signs until she finds you
I will never leave you, hidden, alone.

SHARI EPPEL, March 2012

Interview with Shari Eppel, Director of Ukuthula Trust (The Breakfast Club, CITE, 42.12 minutes, 9th March 2020)

Owner: Shari Eppel
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Shari Eppel

Textile Detail Image(s)