The Refugees Series - Lockdown 1
On the surface, my Confinement paintings, a series of colourful and patterned closed doors, might seem to be a metaphor for the limitations we are all facing during lockdown.
In my paintings I often combine natural pigments with recycled materials such as paper, textiles and metals. However, within these works you can also see intricately embroidered fabrics, pieces of traditional textiles from Afghanistan, Laos and Cambodia.
I was given these materials embroidered by refugees, during my time as a medical technician in refugee camps in the 80’s. Before they settled into their new lives in new countries, they gave me these fabrics as a gesture of gratitude. These fragments of embroidered cloth were all they had and it meant a lot to me to receive them as tokens. Though I didn’t know what to do with them at the time, I have kept them with me over the past three decades, as I myself have moved around the world, from Bangkok to Manila, from Maputo to Divonne.
Working on this series of paintings during the pandemic I started to run out of materials and I began to think of the refugee camps again – they were such hard conditions and yet people still managed to produce such beautiful work. I suddenly knew what to do with the intricate materials I was given so long ago. In Confinement, I have integrated these fabrics into my paintings and combined them vibrant colours, to create works that I hope can be an inexhaustible source of positive energy and a way of celebrating my friends’ ingenuity and resilience, channeling them into my own.
Even though these paintings depict closed doors, they are really about the possibility of them being opened.