Saturday, 7 October 2017

HOUSE WITHOUT WALLS - exhibition, Berlin 13 Oct-23 Nov

MIGRATION OF WHALES = MIGRATION OF PEOPLE / BUT WE CANNOT RETURN TO OUR SUMMER HOMES
HOUSE WITHOUT WALLS (EIN ZUHAUSE OHNE WÄNDE)
Press Release

House without Walls is an exhibition of drawings by refugee children in Berlin, made with British visual poet Philip Davenport, from arthur+martha. The exhibition opens 13 October, at Paul-Schneider-Haus in Spandau, Berlin, and continues until 23 November (Mon-Fri 10-6).

The drawings show a child's everyday, but with the sharpness of war punching through. A policeman with a truncheon hides in one corner of 'A normal day'. A mother walks through a field equally divided between trees and explosions. Several of the drawings have been made into "poster poems", with comments from parents and adults in their community incorporated into the designs.

The poster poems, made in collaboration with Syrian designer Deya Nemo, are a gentle, sideways look at the human cost of war, the subtle losses, including childhood itself. The naivety of the drawings contrast with the questioning of adults. Sharp and cynical, though still child-like, these conversation pieces between children and adults continually ask: where are we now?

Exhibition poster

Davenport's workshops took place in the busy corridor of the Staakener Strasse asylum seekers' shelter in Spandau, Berlin. He directed weekly sessions, over a period of 6 months, getting the children’s energy down on paper, an act of creation and of release. They attacked the paper on occasions. One boy had such shaky hands that his drawings were almost those of an old man.

Davenport describes the workshops: "A blast of energy, full of delight, mischief - but a certain brittleness too. As I slowly got to know the children I began to understand the cost of the epic life journey they'd taken, to reach safety here in Berlin..."

Davenport also interviewed many older members of the community at Staakener Strasse, weaving their thoughts into the work. The interviews and a diary of the project are at this link

The 21st-century is a time of instability. Political change, climate change, economic change, bring unprecedented human movement. But some of the most sensitive witnesses have not been consulted...

Funded by The British Council/Arts Council England.

Supported by Paul Schneider Haus, Gemeinwesenverein Haselhorst e.V., EFRE, Gemeinschaftsunterkunft Staakener Straße, Spandau, Berlin, arthur+martha U.K.

Translations by Deya Nemo, Lisa Langer and Aurelie Maurin. 

Thanks to all at Gemeinschaftsunterkunft Staakener Straße, Barbara Caveng and Dachil Sado at Kunstasyl, Wiebke Ehrenstein at Paul-Schneider-Haus, Elke Ritt at The British Council in Berlin, and poets Alistair Noon, Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour.

An arthur+martha international outreach project.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

I wrote your name in the sky

 I wrote your name in the sky, in tears
(this is something I don't normally do).
But the wind blew it away.
A soldier, me, taught to be emotion-free
I wrote your name in the sand
of experience
the crap life brings.
Don't never want to experience what I have
but the waves wash it away.
With my background I attack
with my family I block, it’s defence.
Gentle will always overpower strength:
I wrote your name in my heart
and here it forever will stay.


Anonymous

Embroidery from the arthur+martha project 'Armour'


Armour is a six month project with homeless people focussing on veterans of the armed services, developing creative ideas based on medieval armour. How can veterans live peacefully with the memory of war? How do we protect ourselves and the ones we love? We are re-thinking, re-examining, re-creating quilted medieval armour, as garments embroidered with meditations on war and peace. The above poem extemporises on a piece by Jessica Blade, which itself is a Bible adaptation: "Behold I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me."
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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Light the touch paper

safety in numbers
numbers of possibilities
possibilities in abundance
abundance of nothing
nothing to declare
declare bankruptcy
bankruptcy court
court the dangers
danger in darkness
darkness to light
light the touch paper


Lawrence McGill

Detail of Lawrence McGill's embroidered poem


Armour is a six month project with homeless people focussing on veterans of armed service, developing creative ideas based on medieval armour. How can veterans live peacefully with the memory of war? How do we protect ourselves and the ones we love? We are re-thinking, re-examine, re-create quilted medieval armour, as garments embroidered with meditations on war and peace.