Spotlight on Irish artist Frances Crowe and her tapestry, “Displaced”

Date: 21 June, 2019

Title: Displaced   Medium: Handwoven Tapestry Size: 1 mt. X 3 mt.

During 2015/16, I became increasingly concerned for the Syrian people fleeing their homes in search of refuge in other countries. Watching the hordes of families travelling across the Mediterranean Sea and walking through Europe only to be turned back at boarders appalled me. I felt I needed to do something, but struggled with what that could be. I began to think about the location where I live, in County Roscommon, and the 1,490 tenants from Denis Mahon’s estate, Strokestown, who were forced to emigrate to Canada during the summer of 1847 due to famine, and this made me realise that history repeats itself.

I spent months researching, drawing and thinking about how to tell the story in a woven tapestry.

I was fortunate to achieve a residency in the Refugee centre in Ballaghaderreen in County Roscommon where I worked with a group of women on a textile project weaving together their stories. The narrative is the same.

Once I had my design together I set myself the mammoth task of weaving a 1 meter by 3 meter handwoven tapestry. This took 6 months of dedicated hard work.

On the left hand side we see Ireland represented by the colour green and a strip of cable stitch from an Aran sweater. A man walks holding his son while a group of people below him beg for food. The second section of the story shows the long walk undertaken by men and women seeking a better future for their families. In the third section I have included the Rohingya refugee crisis and finally on the right hand side we see the Syrian refugees represented by bright blue and Henna flower patterns. A woman holds her child as she looks across to Ireland.

This tapestry was showcased at the 2019 Premier International Tapestry exhibition at the Gallery in Queen Elizabeth park Community and Cultural centre, Oakville, Ontario, Canada and in 2018 from Lausanne to the Beijing Fibre Art Biennale and Symposium in the Tsinghua University Art Museum, Beijing, China.                                                                                                                            

It is now back in my studio in Ireland awaiting its next big adventure.