Thursday, 8 December 2022

Textile Details

'We cannot walk alone – Refugee week 2021 outcome banner', by participants in the workshop programme for Refugee Week 2021 in Northern Ireland. (Photo: Bebhinn McKinley)
'We cannot walk alone – Refugee week 2021 outcome banner', by participants in the workshop programme for Refugee Week 2021 in Northern Ireland. (Photo: Bebhinn McKinley)


Title of Textile:We cannot walk alone – Refugee week 2021 outcome banner
Maker: Participants in the workshop programme for Refugee Week 2021, Northern Ireland
Country of Origin: Northern Ireland
Year Produced: 2021
Size (cm): 98cm (w) x 122cm (h)
Materials: Hessian backing and tights for dolls plus assorted materials for clothing
Type of Textile: Banner

Globally, by mid 2021 the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of conflict, violence and human rights violations exceeded 84 million. Within this staggering figure, refugees accounted for 26.6 million. UNHCR

Where do refugees go? Currently, developing countries host up to 85% of refugees, leading Amnesty International to accuse the international community, in particular wealthy nations, of “failing to meaningfully share the responsibility for protecting people who have fled their homes in search of safety”. Amnesty International: The World’s Refugees in numbers

Within Northern Ireland, by February 2020, the total number of Syrian refugees welcomed under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) had reached 1,815. Department for Communities Northern Ireland: Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme; (Feb 2020) Briefing Document: Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme

Within this global and local context, Causeway Coast and Glen's Borough Council’s Good Relations Programme (CCGBC), through the Together Building a United Community Strategy, District Council Good Relations Programme, initiated a workshop programme, drawing on the theme of UK Refugee week 2021, (14 -20th June) “We Cannot Walk Alone” and World Refugee Day, (20th June) “Every Action Counts”.

Throughout May and June 2021, Conflict Textiles curator Roberta Bacic and Conflict Textiles Fabric Artist Deborah Stockdale facilitated a total of six online and onsite workshops where over 150 participants created arpillera dolls reflecting on what it might be like to be one of the 26.4 million refugees seeking safety in another place. As they cut, stitched, shaped and named their dolls, participants considered how they might extend their hand to someone new, someone outside their current circle, who has had an experience they haven’t. The reflective nature of this process is echoed by one participant’s comment: “….good that a piece of art was created to welcome new arrivals in our community”.

The finished dolls, stitched onto a hessian backing form a collective banner which will journey to various locations and groups. It is one of a number of pieces within the Conflict Textiles exhibition Suitcases: Telling Textile Travels at the Platforma 6 festival in Yorkshire, October 2021 where it will prompt reflection, understanding and action on our global refugee crisis.

Owner: Causeway Coast and Glens Good Relations Team
Location: Behinn McKinley, Causeway Coast and Glen's Borough Council
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Bebhinn McKinley

Textile Detail Image(s)