Home is where the art is.
An exhibition at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge- until 13th October.
Home, an exciting collection of artwork created by award-winning textile artist Anna Ray, with recently resettled Syrian mothers and long-term Ashford based mothers, is currently showing at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury.
Home was commissioned by People United, the Diocese of Canterbury and Ashford Borough Council in 2018, and funded by Arts Council England. The project’s main aim was to bring together women, who despite living in the same town and dropping children off at the same school gates, were not connected.
Through weekly workshops, the participants worked with drawing, painting, print, felt-making, weaving and stitch, all around the theme of home. They discussed themes of home-making, family and love, and in exploring these ideas creatively, were able to transcend barriers of language and culture. The women shared personal stories of their homes, from Aleppo to Ashford. This sharing and making laid the foundations for new friendships, and helped the women build a new community for themselves in Ashford.
This new exhibition features some of the works created during the 8-month artist commission including work created by Anna Ray, inspired by her experience with the women. The artworks on show give an insight into the process and the marriage of diverse techniques from the making of traditional Syrian Aghabani fabrics and other international embroidery forms
Flowers, Gather, Hearts is a tryptic that Anna created by adorning different cloths with repeat patterns of the women’s imagery from the workshops. Flowers, is a piece that utilises a print with drawings the women made when Anna asked them to draw themselves as a flower, plant or fruit. She asked them: What are your qualities? How many petals do you have? Do you have a strong or bending stem? These questions – rooted in metaphor – saw the women create responses that portrayed their family lives, their losses, their growth and through the process, were able to find connections, celebrate difference and feel supported.
Since the end of the project in October 2018 the women have continued to meet regularly to make artwork together as friends. Using skills and confidence learnt during the commission they are still embroidering, drawing, and printmaking. The Diocese of Canterbury and Anna Ray are developing ‘Home’ further and plan to deliver a legacy project of workshops across the UK.
The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, 8 High St, Canterbury, CT1 2BD
Saturday 14 September – Sunday 13 October 2019
Images: Anna Ray