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Collaboration of Julia-Anna Simonchuk and Yasse Saidi Thread,

wollen yarn, fabric, wood, nails
March 2023

This piece stands as a dialogue between artists whose countries are experiencing external (Ukraine) and internal (Iran) threats. Through the practice of weaving, the work considers the receipt of protection from and of natural spaces, negotiating spiritual and militant relationships to nature. The concept of paradise, traditionally reflected in many Persian carpet designs, is transferred to the domestic space, symbolically whilst today, camouflage nets are woven by volunteers as a unifying act, aiming to provide protection for those Ukrainians who are fighting. Both communicate the symbiotic relationship between the internal, the external, the spiritual, decorative and the functional.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion by Russia to Ukraine in 2014, the Ukrainian civilians have been supplying the army with a lacking military clothes and equipment, including camouflage netting. Since then it has been a unifying activity. While weaving people are discussing the war news as well as their everyday life. Making camouflage netting is especially common in schools. As a teenager I also used to be involved in this activity.

The idea of connecting our narrative to nature came out of a conversation. Yasse was talking about the motif of the garden in traditional Persian carpets. Looking at the Garden Carpet presented at Met (New York) we realised how similar the colour pattern was with a camouflage netting, which may appear as an abstract version of carpet.Here arises the connection between our weaved works: The traditional carpet is a decorative object which symbolically brings nature into domestic space and represents a garden - an ancient symbol of paradise. Camouflage netting though - a purely utilitarian object is about seeking protection from nature by meshing into landscape while at the same time protecting nature and the land.

The name “Regaining Paradises” was inspired by epic poem “Paradise Lost” (1667) by John Milton

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