Making Marks: Australia and Afghanistan

In News September 3, 2020

Rosalind Atkins and Heather Shimmen have been involved in a long-distance international arts exchange project between a group of twenty women artists in Australia, and forty-three Afghan women undertaking literacy and vocational classes at the Organisation for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities (OPAWC) in Kabul.

Making Marks: Australia and Afghanistan is an art book that documents the exchange, which took up the medium of the handkerchief to create artworks that are diverse and yet also connected. Despite challenges of communication and the circumstances of a country in conflict, the embroidered artworks made their way from Australia to Kabul, and back.

Many of the ‘first marks’ on the handkerchiefs reflect the Australian artists’ relationship with, and connection to, place, nature and history. These themes are also reflected in the ‘second marks’ made by Afghan women whose relationship with, and connection to, their place and their history, resonates through each stitch and informs the hopes and dreams articulated in thread.

This exquisite book includes images of the forty-three handkerchiefs, with statements from the Australian artists before the journey to Afghanistan, and full-page images of the artworks that returned changed and completed by the touch and thread of the Afghan artists and writers. Making Marks also includes a number of short essays by Afghan and Australian writers. A number of the essays are in English and Dari.

The book will accompany the project’s first complete exhibition at the Counihan Gallery, Melbourne, which has been postponed to 2021.

For more information, and for a preview of this beautiful publication, click here. All funds raised from the sales of this book will be transferred to the OPAWC Vocational Centre in Kabul through Support Organisation for Women in Afghanistan (SAWA), which supports the Centre.

Screen Shot 2020-09-03 at 5.53.49 pmImage above: Rosalind Atkins and Fatona  I want to become a journalist  2018 (detail)

Heather-Shimmen-and-Zakia-Arghandiwal-label-719x960 Image above: Heather Shimmen and Zakia Arghandiwal  My wish is for peace in my country  2018