I often assume I’m missing the ‘art gene’. I want to understand art. I try hard but am mostly left devoid of feeling or understanding. So the impact of this piece caught me off guard and knocked me sideways.
Artist, Liliana Stafford, asked me to come and have a look at some new pieces of her work so we could discuss how to photograph them. She pointed to this piece and told me it’s name: The Refugee Rug. The beauty of the small rug—knitted in golden thread with a soft red band in the middle and the grey edging bands, so reminiscent of warm, comfortable rugs—was the first thing I noticed. Then the barbed wire hangar tightened my chest and the beautiful, yet weight-laden stones pulling down on the rug brought a lump to my throat and my eyes welled up in tears. I looked at this thing, this piece of art that communicated to me so clearly the desperate need people have, yet the barbs we stick out to them to keep them at bay.
Even now, having spent time with this piece in my studio, photographing it, getting to know it, trying to tame it, the tears still well up. The salvation for me is knowing I don’t have a missing gene—I just needed the right artist, the right piece of art to speak to me. As for the refugees for whom this piece speaks…god help you, because our governments will not!