Hopscotch Afghan Refugee Advocacy Project with Aya Haidar - Camden Art Centre

Through November and December 2022, Aya Haidar is collaborating with young women from Hopscotch Women’s Centre’s Afghan Refugee Advocacy Project to explore journeys, identity and personal rites of passage into womanhood.

During the sessions the young women will come together to embroider and embellish fabric handkerchiefs with personal signifiers of hope and aspirations for the future.

A highly embellished and decorative handkerchief draws on the tradition of the Dasmal, a mirror-decorated and embellished handkerchief that is a part of the engagement ritual in Afghanistan, which is hung in the home as a symbol of unity. Typically Dasmals are adorned with symbolic items or items of value, from beads to stones to sweets and even money. The group will create their own Dasmals, embellishing handkerchiefs with meaningful and personal signifiers, such as tickets, photos, labels, fabric offcuts and buttons; objects that represent their personal journeys, while reflecting on experiences of their life in the UK and bicultural identity.

Crafting the handkerchiefs together acts as a way to reimagine a traditional object, and creates a space for the women to explore hopes for their own futures.

Aya Haidar Hopscotch Women’s Centre

Aya Haidar

Aya Haidar (b. 1985, lives and works in London) is a multimedia artist; her work focuses on the use of found and recycled objects exploring loss, migration, memory, labour, domesticity and womanhood. Her hand-embroidered interventions onto culturally and historically specific objects, unfold silenced and authentic narratives around socially and politically engaged issues.

Aya Haidar graduated with a BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Art, during which she completed an exchange program at SAIC (Chicago).

She then went on to graduate with an MSc in NGOs and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Haidar’s work has been included in exhibitions at institutions such as Cubitt (London), Museum of Contemporary Art, (Slovenia), New Art Exchange (Nottingham), Jeddah Arts Week 21,39 (KSA), as well as in Hans Ulrich Obrist and Hoor Al Qasimi’s Do It (2016), INIVA’s A Place for Conversation (London), Mosaic Rooms (London), Art Berlin contemporary (Berlin), Casa Arabe, (Madrid), Art Dubai (UAE), Abu Dhabi Art (UAE), V&A’s Record, Resist, Reframe (London), Tate’s Illuminating Cultures program (London).

Her work is internationally collected by private collections and institutions, most recently by the Guggenheim Museum.

Hopscotch Women’s Centre

Hopscotch Women’s Centre is coordinating the voluntary sector response to the Afghan refugee situation within Camden.

Hopscotch supports minoritised ethnic women and their families caught between gender and racial inequity. They specialise in working with women from the diverse Diasporas in Camden and wider London.

Hopscotch’s mission is to enable minoritised women to actively participate in society and make informed decisions that enable them to achieve their aspirations. They do this by providing support services to minoritised women and their families, raising awareness of important issues, enhancing opportunity and influencing mainstream policy and practice.

Hopscotch provide homecare and advice services including welfare rights, housing, immigration, domestic and personal care, employment and skills training, mental health advocacy, refugee advocacy, and advocacy for those with Learning and physical disabilities and families and women suffering domestic violence.