Thursday, 8 December 2022

Textile Details

'Displacement', by Ourooba Shetewi. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'Displacement', by Ourooba Shetewi. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:Displacement
Maker: Ourooba Shetewi
Country of Origin: Palestine / Syria
Year Produced: 2020
Size (cm): 60cm (w) x 40cm (h)
Materials: Various fabric scraps
Type of Textile: Arpillera

Ourooba Shetewi, now living in Newcastle upon Tyne, created this piece in response to the online exhibition Conflict, Famine and Displacement: Then and Now, facilitated by Professor Karen Corrigan, Newcastle University, England, June 2020. Through the language of textiles she portrays her “heritage of displacement”. In her own words she describes this -her first - arpillera "Displacement".

“Refugees are often talked about but not always heard. I wanted to tell my own story through this art form.

Once I had an idea of the design in my head, I started with a blank ‘canvas’ that I cut from an old prayer costume. I used various pieces of fabric from old t-shirts and other clothing items to create the maps, figures, Tyne Bridge, and other items. Most of the items were roughly drawn on the fabric and then cut to shape before being sewn onto the ‘canvas’. The flowers were made with ribbons that I created from various pieces of fabric scraps and old clothing items. All items are sewn onto the background to create the final piece.

The concept (story) behind the piece is something I think about often and one that I have expressed through writing, and through an academic presentation in the past, so it was exciting to try and translate it through this art form. As a Palestinian refugee in Syria and now a Syrian refugee in Britain, I carry a heritage of displacement, a nagging feeling of uncertainty, and a quest for belonging/stability. The figures in the piece represent me, my family & Palestinian Syrians in general. The first experience of displacement is that of my grandparents in 1948 (represented by the clock over the historical map of Palestine). The second is my own when I left Syria to pursue my studies in the UK not knowing that I won’t be able to return. The clock over the map of Syria says 2011 signifying the start of the ‘crisis’ that eventually led to many Syrians’/Palestinian Syrians’ displacement. The current ‘stop’ is the North East of England represented by the Tyne Bridge; this relates to myself and my immediate family. It would be different for other Palestinians/Syrians, which allows this piece to be personal as well as expressing a shared experience. The clock over the Tyne Bridge has a question mark over it since we do not know whether or not this will be our final stop or if it will ever give us a ‘permanent’ place to call home. This feeling of uncertainty reflects our heritage of repeated displacement and is compounded by the fact that we still do not have permanent residency in the UK. It is worth mentioning here that Palestinian refugees in Syria are officially stateless with no ‘official’ country to call home.

This piece has allowed me to express feelings of loss, uncertainty, and displacement through a new art form and has served as a welcome release at a time of increased uncertainty caused by the pandemic”. Arabic translation

Owner: Ourooba Shetewi
Location: Roberta Bacic, Northern Ireland
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh

Textile Detail Image(s)