Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Textile Details

"The word that caused the outbreak of war - 'Freedom'", Sabah Obido. (Photo Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:The word that caused the outbreak of war - “Freedom“
Maker: Sabah Obido
Country of Origin: Syria
Year Produced: 2020
Size (cm): 45cm (w) x 30cm (h)
Materials: Cotton fabrics, craft fabric
Type of Textile: Arpillera

Sabah Obido, now living in Lincolnshire, 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. Here Sabah explains the background context to her arpillera, which portrays “a scene of the peaceful demonstrations [in Syria] that I witnessed in 2011”.

“The current pandemic has raised so many issues that it naturally distracts from other global events arising from the world’s conflicts that lead to displacement. I particularly wanted to re-emphasise the suffering of the Syrian people that started with the 2011 war and is still on-going.

I love this kind of hand craft. First of all, I used Google Search and the Conflict Textiles website to get an idea about suitable art forms and techniques. Then, I imagined my “Freedom” arpillera in my head and started to choose materials and colours that I recycled from old clothes (some of which I brought from Syria with me when I fled). The whole process took many days to finish. The last step was choosing the words on the demonstration placards. I felt that it was important that these should be in both Arabic and English to show that I remain proud of my home language and identity. This language choice for the arpillera is also motivated to show that bilingualism is usually part and parcel of being displaced and can be a positive outcome for immigrants who manage to keep their old language while learning a new one.

The concept behind my arpillera is a reminiscence of the Arab Spring protests instigating the peaceful demonstrations that caused the outbreak of the Syrian civil war on 15th March 2011. It has become the second deadliest conflict of the 21st century and has caused a major refugee crisis. Syria’s citizens were only asking their government for the freedom to express their feelings of wanting reform to their living conditions and a relief of their suffering. My arpillera is a scene of the peaceful demonstrations that I witnessed in 2011.

I found the process of making “Freedom” exciting since it allowed me to share our issues with the world translated into Arabic, English and the language of the arpillera art form. It was an amazing experience to be involved in this workshop and try my hand at this kind of artistic crafting which was entirely new to me. It was a great relief to be encouraged to reflect on my personal experiences of conflict and displacement during lockdown when other social opportunities for discussing my situation are severely curtailed. Arabic translation

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Donation from Sabah Obido, April 2022.

Textile Detail Image(s)