Els Mommers – When East Meets West – Refugees

All kind of ideas for this theme passed my mind, but it took me a while before I really found out what I wanted to do.
On t.v. and social media you see all these people flying their countries to find safety or a better way of life. What is happening is so unbelievable sad and I wanted to make a statement.

Especially now that Europe is closing its borders.
Most of these refugees are on the run from the east (Syria-Afghanistan) to the west (Europe)

I painted a piece of very wet fabric in colors going from black and red (fire, destruction) to blue and green (the grass is always greener on the other side).
On internet I looked for silhouettes and I drew all different kind on paper . I tried to make a stencil of it, but it didn’t work, so I used my light box, traced my design and painted the figures in black on the coloured background.
The barbed wire is partially sewn on by machine and partially embroidered by hand. It represents the closed borders in the south of the continent at this moment.
The echo quilting stands for all the thousands of refugees that are still on the run somewhere in Europe.

Material: Cotton, very diluted acrylic paint, black acrylic paint with fabric medium, monofilament and black cotton thread for quilting, variegated thread for barbed wire, black embroidery floss.

This piece will remind me in years to come about the terrible tragedy that is currently taking place.
March 2016.






  1. English quilter

    A very topical, poignant piece. It is fascinating how we can express our feelings about outside events in our art quilts.

  2. This piece resonates with me strongly. I use the theme of journeys and processions in my work. You may enjoy taking a look at the work of William kentridge , a South African artist, also using processions and silhouettes a lot in his work . Beautiful work

    • Thank you so much for your comment and for mentioning the work of William Kentridge. I looked him up and love his work.

  3. A very emotional piece. Beautiful background to a terrible tragedy.

  4. Chantal Guillermet

    A beautiful and emotional piece Els; I like the echo quilting and the idea behind it.

  5. Els this is a very poignant piece: beautifully constructed a great contrast with the reality of the situation.

  6. http://ekeskleurdesign.blogspot.no/

    You found a beautiful way to express your feelings about the refugees and all that is going on. Great use of colours and stitching. Such a sad thing happening in the meeting between east and west right now.

  7. joanbrailsford

    A very emotive and beautifully worked piece. I think that your painting of the background and of the figures is lovely, and I would love to know what you used to paint the fabric. The stitching, in particular the echo quilting, is just right for the piece

  8. This is such a nice quilt, although the theme is so sad. Your background and the figures are so real. Beautiful!

  9. Els, such a haunting subject that you have beautifully interpreted. Bravo

  10. Els, this is wonderful! It captures the moment powerfully. All the elements contribute to this effect, but in particular the black silhouettes and closely stitched background bring the theme home.

  11. I found this a very poignant piece and loved the background that you painted

  12. Els, you have certainly captured the sorrow and heart breaking scenes we have witnessed on our TV sets for many months. The black silhouettes on the painted background are very effective.

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