The Bundles Project was set up, in collaboration with El Sistema, in Athens, Greece, October 2019.
El Sistema Greece is a community music project that provides free music education to children and young people in Greece. All children— no matter their origin, nationality, or religion—are not only inspired to strive for a better future, but thanks to music, they are given a platform for dialogue and togetherness across diverse communities.
With El Sistema’s support I was permitted access to Skaramagas Refugee Camp, provided with the kind assistance of a translator and a space in which to work with the mothers of El Sistema students.
Working with the idea of Upping Sticks, picking up one’s possessions to move to another place, long ‘sticks’ were made from clay, broken into smaller sections and then fired. These, when wrapped with different materials became bundles, metaphors for the long journeys refugees make to reach safety from war and oppression.
Materials dyed in indigo, a symbol of protection in Africa, were tightly bound to secure the sticks. These strips of material, resembling bandages, were stitched, or knotted; actions speaking of healing and mending.
The women created their own symbolism, small sticks for their children, larger for mother and father, size and number representing family members. All to be bundled, tied tightly, secured for the next part of their journey. The ideas of protection, mending, gathering up sticks resonated with them, and they could partake on a personal level with the making of the Bundles.
The Bundles represented their own struggle. The workshops offered space for shared creativity and ideas. For friendship and learning, the exchange of culture and beliefs, giving opportunities for empathy and understanding to grow. I feel privileged to have worked with these women.
The mission of the Bundles Project is to reach a wider audience, to give a voice to refugees through exhibitions, publications, and events. Giving and sharing through making, using ‘the resilience in creativity’ to nurture, heal and empower is a powerful way to create change.