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This print collection is one of co-cultural artefacts with a storytelling narrative, each one an archival and emotional piece of artwork based on the close relationship between artist and Babushka.


Co-Designed in person, together with the Babushkas and featuring motifs from their traditional embroideries.


The extensive design process began with personal research in 2016 and discovering, collecting and photographing the historic textile work of the women still living in the exclusion zone, Chernobyl, Ukraine. We bonded and became close through many visits, stitching together and talking about our shared love of embroidery and their textile history.


Embroideries were generously shared or donated, others found in homes evacuated and abandoned since 1986. All the women want their ‘work to live on when…[they] have gone’.


Mapping the Motifs


This scarf is a collaboration with a number of Babushkas, including Dana, Ghana, Ghanna, Hana, Halyna, Maria I, Maria P, Marusya, Matryona, Olga, Valentina B. and Valentina I. They have given their motifs and embroidery images to be combined as one pattern, joining all their villages across the Chernobyl exclusion zone, as one as it were. So, a collective, contemporary and colourful design – a living archive of the Babushkas who remain in the zone and a memorial to those who we have lost.


The exclusion zone is equivalent to the size of Luxembourg –a small country. Over 100,000 people were evacuated from this area in the days and weeks that followed the nuclear explosion of 1986. The zone is enclosed by a guarded border fence, you must have a permit to enter and to be accompanied by an officially appointed guide in order to pass through the checkpoints. It is still classed as contaminated land and it has been said it will be unhabitable for another 3 to 20 thousand years.


Modifying maps of the area as a ground I began to map where these motifs were found using digital collage techniques, with artistic licence it did become more general rather than strictly accurate due to compositional preferences. The story of mapping areas within the zone in political terms, is globally important’.



50% of profit from this artefact will be donated to the Babushka’s of Chernobyl.


Collaboration between artists, ethnographers and research participants can generate new knowledge about particular contextualised understandings of culture. From this perspective, art is used to create a collaborative and dialogical form of ethnographic knowledge’ (Rutten 2016, p.298).


Mapping Motifs - Storytelling Scarf

  • Scarf Size: 60cm x 60cm [approx.]

    Box Size: 16cm x 16cm x 4cm [with drawer & tassel pull]

    Material: 100% silk [washable at 30°, light iron]

    • Hand-rolled edges [high quality]
    • Digital print with...
    • Redacted screen-print [the negative evidence] critically underlines the impending disappearance of this community and gives a depth to the piece
    • Each scarf unique due to the variables of the hand screen printing process
    • Launching at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, November 2022 [together with film of the artist]

    Participatory action research (PAR), ‘values and uses the ‘lived experience of people’ as a way of democratizing inquiry and in some cases empowering marginalized groups’ (Reason cited in Gray and Malin, 2004, p.75).

    50% of profit from this artefact will be donated to the Babushka’s of Chernobyl.



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