I started off this project a brief idea of the concepts I wanted to work around, but no idea where to start. I started with the idea of the refugees suffering in the camps in Jordan (Jordan being home for me) and the effects that the trauma and chaos of war has had on them.
The Zaatari refugee camp in the North of Jordan was the camp I decided to focus on. For my subject work I started looking at different ways I could portray emotions and the truths of the war and its effects, looking at artists such as Herakut and Joel Bergner and the positive impact they made on the Zaatari community through their work. I wanted to create work with similar intentions on a smaller scale with subtle messages; making others more aware of the pain and emotions related to being a refugee. I wanted to show that even in darker times, no matter how hard things became, they were still able to remain optimistic and their resilience enabled them to make the most of their new environment.
I have experimented with different mediums and techniques to try and best express these feelings. For example; painting and collaging using newspaper articles about the refugees or similar issues, printing different forms of text and calligraphy, in addition to using symbolic images of Middle Eastern good fortune.
Despite being held back by a period of illness, I feel successful and proud with the outcomes of my work.
1) Children and the worst affected:
I started off by researching the refugees and the ones that were most affected which I found to be the children. I had originally wanted to focus on the children that were affected and to possibly work on portraits of them; showing the pain and distress that they had suffered but also that they remained positive and optimistic. However I then realised that this would be difficult for me to do due to ethics and consent (of the pictures I had planned to take of the children to use as first hand references). This however lead me to using newspaper pictures to paint the portraits (where the children that had been photographed had already had consent from parents for the photo to be used). I also then decided to focus on the idea that made me focus on the refugee children in the first place; that they remained positive even through chaos and remained resilient and strong. This could be said for refugees, adults and children alike, in general; and so I began to use positive but strong messages in my work from this concept.
2) Colour Theory (field project):
This project influenced and helped me develop my work throughout the whole year, so much more than I had originally anticipated. After all the workshops, I started to experiment more and more with colour and began to use it to change the emotional aesthetic in my work. Using complimentary colours and more rich tones (whereas previously I was sticking to the safe option of more dull and dark tones) has enabled me to create pieces that have a more positive feel and this has allowed me to use text to focus on the serious aspect/message I have been trying to convey in my work.
3) Cut out paintings:
I attended a few workshops where we worked on cut out shapes of wood (instead of square canvas which I was used to before), and found them to be something that I used throughout the rest of my project. I made my self familiar with the machinery in the wood workshop and after collecting numerous ‘found’ pieces of wood (this relates to my research in contextualisation about the artist Tayseer Barakat, who creates pieces on found objects) and I began to cut the pieces ready to work on. I found that the outcomes using the method of cut out paintings to be more visually interesting and allowed me to add a new dimension to my work.
4) Collaging and using mixed media/ found objects:
I started to work with found objects, and used the influences of the collaging field project I was apart of throughout the rest of my work. The project was so helpful and inspired me to start working and layering my work which enabled me to incorporate newspaper articles (from newspapers both back home in Jordan and here in the UK) about the refugees. I also began experimenting more with texture and layering text and symbols of good luck/good fortune through the use of linocut prints, spray painting and stencils and even using glue guns and hot glue to create raised text. This influenced the rest of my work throughout the year and with influence of the colour theory workshops as well; took my work to a new, brighter and more interesting level.
5) Final pieces being displayed
I have explained in detail the final outcome of each piece. I chose to display them in collections of collages to emphasise the feeling of them becoming ‘decorative’ pieces and for them to be used as symbols or reminders of hope for the refugees or those suffering in the Middle Eastern wars and chaos.