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CORONAQUILT - A collective project update

Updated: May 12, 2020

April 8, 2020

At this immensely challenging time, people across the world are being asked to isolate themselves from one another within communities.

Although we are unable to physically travel to northern France we are keeping up to date with the teams in Calais and Paris, and offering crisis support to teams still working on the frontline both in France and here in the UK. In Calais, some physical shelters are finally being prepared, although not nearly enough is being done to protect refugees from Covid19 which is now starting to spread. There is also worrying news from Greece of the virus within refugee communities which are now experiencing lockdown. Refugees, asylum seekers and those at the margins of society are particularly vulnerable at this time with the inevitable reduced service provision and concerning potential for further stigmatisation.

COLLECTIVE LOSS The changes and loss that we are all experiencing is collective - our normal routines and rituals having to shift into a different pattern of existence. The 5 Stages of grief that Kubler-Ross identifies (denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance) are helpful for us all to understand why and how we may be feeling at any one time, with feelings fluctuating and changing. It is hard to find meaning at this time, however there has also been an amazing response from people to reach out and tell stories to each other. Virtual platforms have allowed us to be creative and communicate in different ways, other than face to face.

COLLECTIVE THREADS We at Art Refuge have dreamt up the Coronaquilt project to bring people together both through a virtual global platform, and at a community level. Finding ways of coping with stress will make us all, the people we care about, and the community around us stronger; as well as hoping and planning for a time when we can be together again. The quilt is starting to be accessed by refugees and those who support them in Calais, as well as individuals as far away as Brighton, Sheffield, Bristol, Paris, Melbourne and Los Angeles.

A quilt is a protection, a cover, or blanket, its patchwork structure bringing individual squares together. So far, the project has inspired people to try something new, share online art lessons between friends, discuss the repair of family quilts across generations. The Safe house in Calais is now sending images of things they are making, which is joined alongside those made in London or Paris. The quilt is multiplying - a positive virus, each square generates and links to another which again links to another. The theme of Rituals of the Everyday is crucial at this time, small regular rituals helping to ground us all and build resilience.

How you can be involved: Please have a look at the global gallery of contributions so far. Squares can take the form of drawing, painting, sewing, collage, print, photography. For an offline project, you can take part by making individual 21x21cm squares towards a local community quilt which you can stitch together once the pandemic is over and we all return to more ordinary patterns of life.

Please send images of your squares to upload onto the online global quilt: Instagram @coronaquilt

There’s a World language link at the top right hand corner of the website!

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