I lead a workshop in Oxford to make a Processions 2018 banner for OVADA in Oxford. The Processions 2018 event was held on 10th July in London to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage.
We wanted to involve OVADA’s associate artists and asked them to provide black and white images of strong women, through their families, as the starting point for the banner.
We held the workshop on a day during the Dawn Rose Red festival as a drop in for associate artists to contribute towards the making of the banner. They embroidered letters, painted the background, stitched and ironed.
On 10th June we took the processions 2018 banner to London. Over 30,000 women marched from Hyde Park to Parliament Square.
it was an amazing day to be part of and I am very proud of all the hard work that was put into our fantastic banner.
For this project I will print 8372 business cards, that will be individually numbered/editioned 1/8372, 2/8372 etc on one side. The other side of the card will have a brief paragraph explaining the history of what happened at Srebrenica in 1995 as well as an explanation of the piece of work.
These business cards remind us of each of those people killed without actually naming them. Business cards represent identity, status and the ability to make contact, many of those who died still remain missing.
The process of numbering will be an important act. I intend to host a two day event within the project space at Magdalen Road Studios and invite artists and members of the public to participate in the numbering of each of the 8372 cards. Each of these volunteers will conceptually represent the perpetrators, condemning each of the individual victims. This process will engage each volunteer to consider more deeply the events and actions of 23 years ago.
Srebrenica Memorial week runs from the 8th to the 15th July. I am hoping to exhibit all of the cards in their entirety at the Town Hall in Oxford from 8th to 11th July. Then from the 11th July I will begin to hand out these cards within public spaces metaphorically exhuming each of the individuals and acknowledging their existence. This will be an act of remembrance that will help to raise awareness and remind us all of the consequences of hate.
I will continue to document the process here as well as on my social media channels.
I have really exciting ideas that I would like to work on for Srebrenica Memorial week and am currently looking for funding to enable me to produce this piece of work.
Between 1991 and 1999 war broke out across the former Yugoslavia. Thousands of people were killed and many more were internally displaced or forcibly expelled from their countries. During 1995 in Srebrenica 8,372 mostly men and boys were systematically murdered and buried in mass graves. The victims, predominantly Muslim, were selected for death on the basis of their identity. This was the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.
To commemorate the genocide at Srebrenica in 1995 I plan to create a piece of public art that will remind and inform the public of the events in Bosnia 23 years ago.
I propose to print 8372 business cards individually numbered 1/8372, 2/8372 etc on one side. The other side of the card will have a brief paragraph explaining the event with a link to my website for more information. These business cards remind us of each of those people killed without actually naming them. Business cards will be selected because they represent identity, status and the ability to make contact, many of those who died still remain missing.
The process of numbering will also be an important act. I intend to host a two day event within the project space at Magdalen Road Studios and invite artists and members of the public to participate in the numbering of each of the 8372 cards. These people will conceptually represent the perpetrators, condemning each of the individual victims to their death.
During Srebrenica Memorial week (8th – 15th July) I will hand out these cards in a public space metaphorically exhuming each of the individuals and acknowledging their existence. This will be an act of remembrance that will help to raise awareness and remind us all of the consequences of hate.
On 11th July I have been personally invited to The Remembering Srebrenica Memorial event at The Guildhall in London. I will be one of 11 carefully selected community champions who will light a candle of remembrance in recognition of the work I continue to do to remember Srebrenica.
As part of my exploration of borders as a source of conflict, I am looking at the moment between life and death.
I recently captured the trajectory of lead shot within ballistic soap at a firing range in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
The visualisation of the moment of impact captures for me both the before and after of death, and the briefest of moments between the two.
Lead is heavy and alludes to the weight of memory or responsibility. It is used to make bullets and is a poison.
In Kosovo after the war, many Roma were internally displaced. With none of the surrounding countries prepared to take them they were eventually placed within a ‘temporary’ refugee camp on a disused lead mine. Over 20 years later they are still there, slowly being poisoned by their surroundings.
The weight of memories within the minds of loved ones who have lost someone during conflict, who must replay that moment of death in their minds even if they do not actually know what happened to them. Never free.
Whilst working on this current piece, I have been aware that the artistic process itself has become as important as the initial ideas and the finished piece. Almost like a performance piece the act of making has added meaning to the finished work.
Tearing fabric strip
Whilst tearing the strips I considered who had actually torn the fabric for the Serb army. Whose job had it been to create the blindfolds and fabric ligatures? Had they considered and known of their intended use?
I do know that some of the blindfolds and ligatures were possibly scraps from a manufacturing process, these were collected and used in bulk. Others however would have had to have been produced.
Exhuming the work
To dye and stain the knotted fabric, I have used waste coffee from a local cafe ‘The Missing Bean’ along with a combination of other dye stuffs and rusty iron. The whole piece was left for a week and was then uncovered to discover the effects.
This uncovering had a very visceral sense of exhumation. The act of burial was an important aspect of the process for this piece of work, but the uncovering too became important as well.
It is these aspects that often only become apparent during the artistic process itself and aren’t always part of the planning.
For this piece, particularly, the importance of these elements is poignant. A whole new level of conceptual meaning has been added.
Developing ideas from research I have started to tie ideas about Bosnia’s blindfolds together.
The arm bands lead to blindfolds
Coffee brought communities together but later dove them apart.
Distant images of mass graves can look like knots
I want the ideas to act rather like a timeline within the piece:
Men and boys over 150 cm separated from women and boys smaller than 150 cm.
All Muslims required to wear a white armband and hang a white flag or sheet from their homes, so that they could be identified.
Blindfolded and with hands tied behind their backs the men and boys were executed, and buried in mass graves.
Intermingled and piled together these bodies / parts needed to be identified.
The piece is fixed at 150 cm high as a reference to the height point for boys being selected to stay with their mother or not.
White loose arm bands start the piece with details of whitework embroidered family initials. This addition gives a reminder of the personal nature of events.
Body width as a reference to a grave, coffin or shroud.
Knotted from loops of fabric strips as the blindfolds would have been.
Knotted together, intermingled creating a mass of knots each individual. reference to a mass grave.
Within Mass graves, forensic anthropologists found many blindfolds and ligatures. It was noted that many appeared to be very similar. Sent away to a forensic lab in The Netherlands, Chemist S. E. Maljaars drew up a report for the Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.
In her analysis, the Dutch forensic expert showed that the bodies from the primary grave, where the victims executed at that location were initially buried, were transferred to several secondary graves. The pieces of the same fabric were thus found in two or more locations.
The evidence also helped to prove a level of organisation during events and therefore was part of the evidence that proved Genocide rather than mass murder.
I have become ever more excited about the possibility of organizing an exhibition that continues and extends the ideas I started to work on for ‘latent‘. The potential to explore these themes further whilst also extending the ways of remembering in a creative visual way is really exciting too. I think the potential is huge and also very exciting.
I found out last week that I have been selected to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina with Remembering Srebrenica on one of their ‘Lessons From Srebrenica’ visits. I leave next week and I am very excited!
The program enables interested individuals the opportunity to learn first hand the awful events that happened in Bosnia, meet survivors and visit key sites. In return delegates pledge to do something to share their experiences and educated groups back home.
I am looking forward to my visit and I’m really excited to develop a new project.