Babushka Babushka

I have recently returned from the second phase of my ‘Embroidery as a Language’ Project, exploring  non-verbal communication through the vehicle of stitch and textile processes.

Ghanna Chala & кот

The first stage was a Chernobyl tour I did Christmas week, where we visited the most isolated self settlers in the most extreme weather conditions, which effectually meant that most of the Babushkas and Dedushkas were housebound and cut off from the outside world. It was an amazing and emotional experience. I discussed embroidery with them and my project (with the help of a translator), making new introductions and cementing some previous relationships.


Marisa with her Christmas Gift

Olga was so happy we visited Christmas 2017; Ben from Paris, Thierry from Brussels & Claire from Stockton, UK

The intent of the project is to nurture these special relationships and by working directly with the ‘Babushka’s of Chernobyl’ (the old ladies who still live in isolation and hardship in abandoned villages inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone), show them support and offer them friendship. There was quite a bit of homemade vodka drinking…

Baba Hana sharing her homemade vodka April 2018














Before I commenced this trip I needed to do much planning, design and investigations; I looked at traditional Russian embroidery motifs and combined the essence of them with British contemporary embroidery design, using the notions of ‘home’, ‘domesticity’, ‘value’ and ‘artefact’, as well as previous research carried out in the homes of a number of these women, as inspiration, in order to use the process of making, skills sharing and emotional support to bring us together across culture, geography and completely different worlds.


The first time Baba Hana has embroidered since she was 18


It was important that I considered the ease of the stitching, as some of the Babushkas suffer from poor eyesight and conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis as well as instilling them with the confidence that they could do it. I was also trying to retain some element of authenticity (as far as it was possible) and by basing the designs on traditional floral motifs, something they were familiar with.

Maria’s house, Opachychi 2018

By incorporating video, portrait & documentary photography, as well as examples of stitched work from the Babushka’s I intend to curate an exhibition to be shown both in the UK and overseas, which will hold resonance for anyone who has ever had to leave…


Maria’s embroidery surrounds her

Please note, my next post will be ALL about the embroidery…

2 Responses to “Babushka Babushka

  • GailEMac
    6 years ago

    Amazing CB …pics of our lovely Babushka’s have me in floods …’again’ x

  • sharron
    6 years ago

    Very interesting work. liked the connections and ideas. Thank you for sharing. Good luck in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *