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Concept Inspired Design
My current practice looks at the representation of refugees through the visualization of birds. Focusing on the migration they both encounter. The word ‘bird’ is used as slang for woman and these designs are centered on five female refugees I have been working with in Salford.
My final project is a collection of samples, which reflect this notion. I am currently working on repeatable prints that will be embellished in embroidery, reverse applique and foiling. The designs encompass a series of flat pack birds, which correspond to the country of origin the refugee has come from. These printed/multi-head repeat fabrics will be stitched into bags. These bags can then be-recycled to create three-dimensional birds. The visual transformation the fabric takes is a metaphor for the potential the audience has to change the future of these refugees, through buying a bag, 20% of the profit will go to Rainbow Haven, the refugee drop-in centre I have been working with. Through creating a three-dimensional bird, the customer is creating a physical reminder of the individual woman they have helped. These birds visualise the freedom these women could have; women who have been ‘forced to flee her country because of persecution, war, or violence’ but are still facing other forms of suffering since migrating to the UK (UN refugee agency, 2011).
My current body of work looks at the visual representation of birds as a symbol for women. The birds have their own characteristics and voices. The samples focus in particular on the voices of refugees and asylum seekers. The work is concerned with collections and illustrating a narrative. The work has developed to look at the ties between the migration of birds and that of asylum seekers and refugees. The metallic elements reference the culture and precious items these women have brought with them to the UK.
Many asylum seekers have died on their journey to the UK or through committing suicide because they have been rejected asylum and are fearful of returning to their own country. This issue is prevalent in our society today, but goes unnoticed by many. The names have been mapped out, and visually illustrated in an attempt to raise awareness of the issue.
Over the last term, I have been working in Rainbow Haven, a drop in centre for refugees and asylum seekers. This centre provides invaluable support to individuals and welcomes many volunteers to run activities.
The work is now developing, focusing less on birds but rather the abstraction of maps and using eggs as a means of communication. The work hopes to focus of the restrictions of travel refugees and asylum seekers are facing along with the feeling of Dépaysement. Dépaysement is a French word that has no translation in English; it means the feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country, the feeling of being a foreigner, an immigrant.