10th July 2017 – Looking back

TK: How did you find meeting everyone this week?

AK: I felt deeply aware of my own privilege, and embarrassed about it. I felt aware of how ignorant I am and I felt inspired by the extraordinary stories that these individuals shared with me.

On a human to human level, you just want to reach out, but in terms of protocols, you get very confused. You tie yourself in knots about how to navigate that. I don’t want to misrepresent anyone, I don’t want to appropriate anything, I don’t want to own it. I feel I can’t be as genuine as I want to be, because of protocols. I’m having to hold back. That feels confusing in terms of trying to be authentic and to not appropriate. I felt deeply troubled by that.

On meeting the individuals this week, I realised, you’ve just been telling me lots of names and stories. It’s like the way you see the media – this mass, this collective. But the moment you meet individuals, this perspective changes. Meeting everyone this week has been very powerful.

TK: Maybe artwork has the power to replace the need to meet someone: just as you have been impacted by these meetings, maybe your artwork will communicate this same impact on to your audience.

AK: I do think textiles, because of its ubiquity, has a way of communicating and connecting many people. It is a common material, it’s about the domestic. In has a distinct relationship to place.

Manchester is a metropolis, it has this big community of refugees and asylum seekers, who share public spaces. But here in Winchester, we don’t have that. So people here need to learn more. We are not confronted with poverty, or with the presence of many refugees and asylum seekers in the public spaces Winchester. This effects people’s understanding and connection to an issue. By using textiles, I hope it can communicate through these varying experiences of places.

TK: What else have you learnt this week?

AK: We tend to think of refugees as sharing one story. The media enforces this. But in fact, refugees are individuals who have made life choices. For all of them, there came a moment which precipitated them leaving. I can’t comprehend the enormity of that moment, of leaving family. They are saying, we had no choice, we had to go, because it’s dangerous. We’re leaving our family in danger. And that of course results in the fragmentation of the family unit, which was previously so strong. They’ve all told us how all the generations lived together under one roof, and then suddenly that’s all been pulled apart. Whereas we’re used to separation – we don’t live together in such a close intergenerational way.

TK: Also distance doesn’t mean as much to us as we have the means the travel – money and a passport. If I lived the other side of the world, you could come visit me.

(Edited from original)

For more excerpts from conversations between Alice and Tamsin please see the ‘Conversations’ category

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