Artist Anna Ray gives an update on the Home commission after a weekend of exciting workshops in Ashford, Kent.
As part of the Create Platform (Create Festival) in Ashford, we exhibited work in progress and offered free art workshops for members of the public in a vacant shop space. Over three days, passers by were invited to try out some of the stamp and painting techniques that we have been experimenting with in the ‘Home’ project. It was lovely for the participants to bring along their families and friends to see what we have been doing; to meet, chat and join in the making.
I installed a series of large-scale textiles based on different readings of the theme ‘Home’, all displayed on a washing line. Among the prints were three scaled-up drawings. The drawings were originally made by participants and I had re-created them on cloth, by hand in my studio – Hanin’s tiled terrace in Syria, Ellie’s Gumamela (Hibiscus) flower, common in the Philippines and Sally-Ann’s family tree – all images that warm the heart.
The striking ‘Two Trees’ panel was central to the installation. This large repeat print was constructed by the whole group. It is closely based on artwork by two of the Syrian women who had met for the first time during one of the workshops. One woman instinctively began to mimic the artwork that the other had made by using similar stamps and colours, in slightly different tones and arrangements. As the women got acquainted, they continued to make. I watched as they adopted each others ideas, adding yellow, jewel like dots and birds to both pictures. For me this artwork symbolises the project as it is a wonderful example of making, while making friends.
Over the weekend we had dozens of visitors to the exhibition, of all ages and backgrounds. Some were curious to hear more about the project in general, while others were more hands on, keen to work with the paint and the stamps. People used the English alphabet stamps and the Arabic letters to write their names and to create abstract shapes and patterns.
Anna Ray, July 2018
Home was commissioned by People United, the Diocese of Canterbury and Ashford Borough Council in 2018, and funded by Arts Council England.