In June 2019, eL Seed visited the refugee camp of Ain Al Helweh in south Lebanon and met a group of women artisans who are preserving the old art of Palestinian Embroidery. His idea was to paint a few murals all around the camp and then ask the women to reproduce them into Palestinian embroidery, to later sell them.
Meeting these women was quite surprising for eL Seed. The feeling of familiarity and closeness was natural and mutual. Soon, he started the first mural with the help of the women. The words of the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, whose works focus on themes related to homeland, slowly appeared on a wall.
“We suffer from an incurable malady: Hope”
All the women were excited and intrigued by eL Seed’s techniques of painting. Each one picked a colour and didn’t want to leave that colour to anyone else for the next few days. After a few murals, some knew already which one they wanted to embroider. They were taking ownership of the murals and were also projecting the complexity of the embroidery. Some of them were asking to not put too many colours as it would make the embroidery difficult to recreate.
Umm Mahmood mentioned that even though the project happened inside the camp, they felt like they had taken a journey outside of the camp. Their living conditions are hard but they stand their ground and show their resilience, strength and pride through their crafts and art. They carry their Palestinian identity with them in their hearts and in their actions. Some of them have never visited Palestine but they still continue the tradition of embroidery, which has been passed down through generations. Each stitch closes a wound that exile has opened. They embrace life and it is symbolic that the last wall we painted were the words of Mahmoud Darwish saying:
“The Palestinians are in love with life.”