Crewel Stories

Aya Haldar
6 March 2009 to 18 April 2009

During the 2006 bombing of Lebanon a friend of artist Aya Haidar sent her daily diary entries, recounting the horror and devastation happening around her, she shared her views, feelings, her fears and her desire to go home. Aya took one of these diary entries and carefully embroidered it onto a pillow in black thread, adding her own thoughts and feelings over the top in red.

On first viewing of Aya Haidar’s work, you are struck by the beauty of the meticulously crafted handmade objects you are being presented with. On closer inspection you realise that underneath the beauty lies stories of loss, displacement and migration, stories of day-to-day life and suffering. These stories are personal and intimate, exploring her identity as a woman of Lebanese origin, her family ties and the understanding of sitting between two cultures.

Using recycled materials, fabric, paper, fibre and making these discarded materials useful again, Aya reworks these materials, adding layers of meaning to the new objects she makes. This also explores the idea of necessity versus commodity and when people are put into a position of having to move, what is it that you take and what is it that you leave behind. Growing up Aya recalls knitting with her grandmother as she recounted stories of her life in Lebanon, reminding you of the intergenerational narrative within the work, the passing of the skill and memory from one generation to another. These new hand made objects provide comfort and connection with the past through the reuse of material and the recollection of the stories embroidered on them, making that which might have been passed on aurally into something physical.

Aya Haidar graduated from Slade School of Art in 2008. She has exhibited her work in the UK and abroad and has work in the Ryerson and Joan Flasch artist’s book collection at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. She lives and works in London and is currently doing an MSc in Non Government Organisations and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science.