Monday, 22 July 2024

Textile Details

'Los árboles de la memoria / Trees of memory', Anonymous. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'Los árboles de la memoria / Trees of memory', Anonymous. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:Los árboles de la memoria / Trees of memory
Maker: Anonymous, Vicaría de la Solidaridad workshop
Country of Origin: Chile
Year Produced: 1988
Size (cm): 64cm (w) x 60cm (h) (inclusive of backing)
Materials: Scraps of material sewn onto burlap
Type of Textile: Arpillera

This arpillera, with its verdant landscape and lush foliage, envelops and harbours the memory, the loss, the absence of those disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.

It was made by an anonymous arpillerista in one of the Vicaría de la Solidaridad workshops; an organisation that was also a place of refuge for those seeking news of their disappeared relatives and requiring legal defence. The International project of human rights verify 1,192 cases of forced disappearance, 2,995 executions and 38,254 people recognised as victims of political imprisonment and torture from the Pinochet era. Memoria Viva - Proyecto Internacional de Derechos Humanos. A new state search initiative, announced in 2023, considers 1,469 of those killed or disappeared by the dictatorship to be still missing. Observatorio de Justicia Transicional, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile (2023).

Here, with few colours, the arpillerista portrays the disappeared as leaves; as part of the seasonal cycle of decay in winter and new growth in Spring. Their memory, just like the tree, remains streadfast and strong and is held by the women witnessing the scene. Although the disappeared are absent, their presence – just like the new Spring leaves – will live on in their families and in the next generation.

This arpillera was originally bought in Chile in 1989 by Laura Taylor McNeill. As requested by Laura before her death, through various solidarity networks - via her friend Lewellyn Bell and Gayla Jamison - it has made its way to Conflict Textiles collection. Here it will continue to bear witness to the disappeared of Chile.

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Donation from Lewellyn Bell via Gayla Jamison, USA. Received in March 2022.

Textile exhibited at: Conflict Textiles collection: Magee Campus Library, Ulster University, 28/07/2022 - 8/02/2023
Arpilleras Poéticas, 7/12/2023 - 12/02/2024
Diásporas textiles: Diálogos con la Colección, 12/02/2024 - 17/03/2024

Textile Detail Image(s)