Silk Thread Martyrs was conceptually inspired by the history and contemporary realities of Palestine, especially the omnipresence of death which has thrown society into a perpetual state of mourning and dystopia. As an act of defiance, I thought the collection should actually takes the overbearing presence of loss in our lives and solemnly celebrate it. Drawing on my not-so-strict Catholic upbringing for drama and spectacle, I had hoped to subversively flaunt the last thing that Palestinians still own: our doom.
Structurally and technically, the work draws inspiration from the historic rural dress and fabrics of Palestine and specifically the work of traditional Palestinian embroiderers, many of them refugees living in Lebanon or Jordan, who have maintained and developed the craft.
To embroider the collection, I worked with the Association for the Development of Palestinian Camps in Lebanon (INAASH). I was inspired by the high quality, fine details and dedication of their work which I first encountered in 2005. Since then I was determined to work with INAASH and collaborate with them.
As my first collection, Silk Thread Martyrs was an attempt at suggesting a new, transformed and re-imagined look that explores clichés gender, duty and social constraints in Palestine. I was never interested in ‘reviving’ or ‘modernising’ rural Palestinian dress or embroidery, because I think the approach is pointless. To assume there is a cut off point between the historic and contemporary was to reinforce this dichotomy that was altogether artificial.
The idea and concept for Silk Thread Martyrs was developed as part of my final major project for my final year at London College of Fashion. The project was never finished in time for submission and I was deferred, which meant I could not take part in the final show. I therefore decided to exhibit the collection independently at the Mosaic Rooms (A.M. Qatan Foundation) in London on the fringes of fashion week in early 2011. As a result, the British Museum acquired one of the pieces. This was supposedly one of the first ‘fashion’ objects in their collection.