Home was commissioned by People United, the Diocese of Canterbury and Ashford Borough Council in 2018.
The project saw textile artist Anna Ray working with a group of women in Ashford, including recently resettled Syrian women, to explore the theme of ‘home’ through a series of art workshops.
This mixed-media and textile project provided the group with opportunities to explore their commonalities and celebrate their differences, using the shared experience of making work as the foundation of bringing a new community together.
At the end of the project the group hosted a celebratory exhibition in the centre of Ashford in November 2018. A year later, Anna and the participants went on to exhibit their textiles in Canterbury alongside some new embroidery. The exhibition, at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, was part of the Platforma Festival and attracted 5,000 visitors across 4 weeks.
This following film shows the participants layering the artwork created in the workshops. You will also see the exquisite hand embroideries that some of the them made at home. The film begins with a traditional Syrian Aghabani tablecloth being laid over a hand embroidered tablecloth made by Anna’s grandmother. This layering performance was repeated during the opening of the exhibition in Ashford and everyone was invited to join in.
This project has created a community, a sense of home for all involved. The women, both long term residents and Syrian mothers now bump into each-other in town and chat, while their children play happily together. Memories of the shared experiences and achievements of the group will last and will, I hope, inspire all of the women to reach out to others in the community in the future, even if they are unfamiliar. Anna Ray, Artist
After the project one of the participants set up a creative CIC, which enables some of the women to continue to meet, make and sell together.
We were delighted when Ashford Borough Council won the Diversity and Inclusion Award at the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards 2020 for their Syrian Resettlement Programme. Home was part of this programme, and images from the project were used by both Ashford Council and the Local Government Chronicle to illustrate Ashford’s “exemplary work in helping Syrian refugee families to settle in the borough and create a new, peaceful and secure life for themselves”.