NAGY KrisztinaConflict Textiles: Touching pain and healing
by Krisztina NAGY for Northern Ireland Foundation
19 November 2015

On 19th November a launch event for the new website for Conflict Textiles was held at the Tower Museum, Derry-Londonderry.

The event started with a short introduction of CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet), which has been online since 1996. As the name indicates, it was created to host information and source material on ‘the Troubles’ and politics in Northern Ireland from 1968 to the present. CAIN is a part of INCORE and ARK, and is located at Ulster University.

Last year CAIN and INCORE together launched a website called Accounts of the Conflict, which introduced he individual experiences related to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The success of that website was important for the launch of the Conflict Textiles website:

Conflict Textiles is home to a large collection of international textiles, exhibitions and associated events, all of which focus on elements of conflict and human rights abuses.”

On the website it is possible to search for textiles, exhibitions and events by date, place, and even organiser. As explained, even though the exhibition is physically located in Northern Ireland, through the website people worldwide can also examine it.

Roberta Bacic, the Chilean Curator of the website, said that there were discussions whether to have a real exhibition or only an online one. But, she argued, “there is no substitute of touching the textiles”, so they decided to place the pieces of the exhibition to several points of Derry-Londonderry, including the Tower Museum, the Guildhall and the Verbal Arts Centre.

The collection is made of pieces that Ms Bacic had already, as well as pieces that were donated by various individuals. Through the pieces women tell their stories about violence, abuse and pain, as well as healing, she explained. Three dimensional textiles from Latin America are called arpilleras, and each of them is very different, although the initial topic is the same. Women have used arpilleras as a means to tell their stories, which would otherwise be difficult for them with spoken narratives.

NIF 20151119 Conflict Textiles - Roberta BACIC
Ms Bacic giving a guided tour of the arpilleras

The logo of the website captures what the exhibition is about. When designing it, it was agreed that the exhibition had to concentrate on conflict and violence, as well as be universal, so other cultures can relate to it.

This is all the more, as the collection consists of textiles located in the Basque country, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland, and beyond.

Learn more about Roberta Bacic’s work with the arpilleras here:

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