About a month ago I attended a screening of the documentary Welcome to Canada, followed by a discussion of the plight of refugees. I felt compelled to respond with art, and this resulted in a diptych, of which this is the first piece. As is my practice, the work doesn’t specifically refer to the current situation but reflects back to the timeless story of fleeing and seeking refuge, enacted continually through human history.
Among the different Arabic words expressing Flight and Refuge, I chose Firâr and Liyâdh. The reason for this was that these are listed as the names of two stations on the Sufi path, and although in that context the flight is to and the refuge in God, I was keen to use this link.
Refuge: Liyâdh evokes to me ships finding a safe harbor: this is expressed here with lost letters finding a space to moor – a space that is available and reserved for them (in simpler days, an empty space was always left at the table for the unexpected guest in need). The fragmented space of Flight has given way to the circle of wholeness. The previously threatening red now radiates at the heart of the composition like a warm sun or hearth fire.