A series of Patchwork Hangings Concerning Women and War

Jennifer Matthews

1994 - Ongoing

During lockdown 2020 I have been making a series of patchworks – 11 completed so far, 5 more in production. It has been an opportunity for me to assess the work I’ve done over the last twenty years as a documentary photographer concerned with the effects of war on women lives globally. I have edited photos from my archive and printed them onto pieces of linen that I have then sewn together to make a series of patchworks. These have then been backed onto different textiles, which I have sourced, from each country. Each patchwork is a visual statement of women challenging attempts to control their lives during and after conflict in a specific place, ranging from Afghanistan to South Sudan. The Refugee hanging is an exception as it draws material from a number of different countries. I have also duplicated some of the embroidered portraits to stand alone as a series of women affected by conflict.

The making has been a slow process, which has given me the opportunity to organise memories and contemplate my experiences from each country. I have also added embroidery to many of the portraits to honour the remarkable women I have met in the course of my work.

To accompany the hangings I will produce a series of zines which will contain the original images, captions to each, and a piece of writing about the relevant conflict

The size of the completed hangings varies between 76cms x 82 cms (Iraq – Saddam ) to 2 metres 07cms x 1 metre 90 cms (Rwanda ) .

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  • Rwanda hanging detail - Consolee, genocide survivor

  • Afghanistan hanging 1

  • Iraq hanging. Portrait of Dua, exiled to Kurdistan, with embroidery

  • Rwanda hanging detail - Speciose, genocide widow

  • Palestine hanging

  • Refugee hanging

  • Iraq - Saddam Hussein Hanging

  • Sierra Leone hanging detail. Freetown, Sierra Leone. Manty was attacked by rebels who tried to cut off her hands, they were reattached by MSF surgical team.

  • South Sudan hanging

  • Afghanistan x 2 hanging

  • Sierra Leone hanging detail. Freetown, Sierra Leone. Amputee camp. Mariatu Kamara who was attacked by rebel boys and both her hands were chopped off, 1999

  • Egyptian hanging

  • South Sudan detail. Adama left behind when everyone fled Rombek

  • Iraq hanging detail -Portrait of Fatimeh, sick with leukemia allegedly caused by depleted uranium in the environment after First Gulf war allied bombing of Basra, with added embroidery

  • Iraq hanging. Portrait of Delaal, in a Basra neighbourhood with high levels of radioactivity presumed to come from depleted uranium in the environment, with added embroidery.

  • Rwanda hanging detail - Esther, genocide widow.

  • Iraq hanging detail - Portrait of Um Mohammed, with embroidery

  • Rwanda hanging detail - Epiphanie is reunited with her orphan niece Uwimana. Her own children were killed in the genocide, as were Uwimana's parents.

  • Rwanda hanging

  • Iraq hanging