With organisations such as 81 Designs working to improve the lives of skilled female refugees, as well as organisations such as Tiraz: Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress highlighting historical and contemporary interpretations of Palestinian embroidery, works of craftswomen have been reaching broader platforms.
81 Designs, for instance, showcases its refugee-contemporary artist collaborations at Art Dubai every March, and most recently, ethical brand SEP Jordan is working with the Universal Pictures film Mary Magdalene to bring into focus craftwork by women refugees.
Empowering female artisans by offering them a sustainable income that maximises on their natural skillset, SEP Jordan was launched by Roberta Ventura in 2013 with the motto “Every Stitch Tells A Story”. Thus far, Ventura’s initiative has helped an estimated 300 women improve their living circumstances as well as boost morale, facilitating their growth by providing training to reinforce techniques dating back to the 1800s.
While the women work on a range of specialty products available for sale through the organisation, the specific incorporation of hand-embroidered costumes and linens by 27 women on the film has had additional personal resonance as it speaks to a land and history from which they are associated.
Working alongside award-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran, the Jerash camp-based women have provided history-rooted designs of their own carte blanche inspiration that will play a key role in authentically representing an ancient world.
Mary Magdalene will star Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara and is due to be out on 16 March 2018.