“ ‘My Syrian Room’ workshop in Leeds provided a platform for a group of Syrian ladies from different backgrounds to express themselves through art and share stories to form strong bonds and communicate to the world the bright side of our beautiful country, Syria, the cradle of civilization.”
Welcome to the Giant Dolls’ House Project: a social arts project that engages participants in thinking about their home and environment through making a dolls’ house in a shoebox. The project raises awareness for homelessness and refugees and makes people aware of the importance of a home and community for all and to celebrate a united diversity.
“I’m a Damascus-based architect, and art is my life. I love photography, painting, crafts, and music. With my camera, I trap the details and moments I wish to immortalize. My photos are sometimes simple, but they capture stories and intense emotions.
I have therefore created Weirdie, through whom I combined my love for crafts, photography, and self-expression. Through the day-to-day details of Weirdie’s life, I express myself and savor the things and notions I hold dear. He also resonates with many people although he doesn’t feel like he fits in with the world around him. He has a small number of friends, he is comfortable in his own skin, and he spend his time doing the things he loves. He wouldn’t waste a moment on anything that doesn’t feel right or doesn’t feel like him.
When I first started capturing Weirdie’s life, I introduced people to his character, hobbies, and interests. He plays the oud, reads, goes for long walks in Damascus, and does many other things. I then decided to build his first house. It was very simple but the perfect fit for his character. I shared the details of his life for almost two years before his life expanded and he needed a bigger house, so I built him a Damascus-inspired home full of the cultural details he loves. I also capture the moments in his life that reflect my deepest silent emotions.
After about a year of moving into his new home, Weirdie wanted to pursue a new hobby and turn it into a profession, so I built him a tannour bakery next to his house. Now the details of his life have expanded to this bakery.”
“I feel lucky to have had my art to get me through the lockdown. My day usually starts with a walk on the local meadows… There is new life springing up everywhere — the wild garlic patch, which we collected from to make soup has just started to appear — reminding me, it is over a year since the pandemic happened. As I look down in the pond, I can see new life, the frogspawn has appeared. Feeding the swans, ducks, and geese has been uplifting and funny at times, watching the hierarchy within the groups. As soon as I get home, I start working on my art. I have started working from my front room window — I was a little shy at first, but I have found it to be really nice. I have a little fan base, who wave to me as they go past my house. The postman has become very interested in my art, and we have now become firm friends. I have really enjoyed my days in lockdown, just making the most of what we have around us. However, I feel sad that others haven’t got the same privileges or resources, and I do wonder how we can help the homeless in the future… A Manchester-based charity ‘Embassy’ has plans to make a community for homeless people — repurposing shipping containers. I think this is a wonderful idea, which I think is a step in the right direction. I am really looking forward to seeing it completed, and it giving hope and a new future for the homeless.”
“The last year I’ve been focussing on all the turmoil that humanity is facing right now. I’ve noticed that I’ve focussed on all the negative aspects of the past year rather than looking for the positives. I’ve found that being surrounded by my loved ones helps comfort me and helps me realize that the world is not wholely bad.”
“It has been a tough year, these past 12 months. How small the world has become, although we are lucky to be able to reach out and speak to family and friends far-away. There are so many people facing this pandemic in much more dire situations. And let’s face it, Covid 19 is not the only problem in the world. This is a box filled with my Covid-quarantine life. You can see a drawing of my husband, I am really missing him, as he is now living and working in China. I included a photo of my mother in law, who passed away in January. So difficult to say farewell without my husband and our son. My son is drawn standing with his girlfriend under the US flag. We are looking forward to meeting his girlfriend in real life The car in the dolls house is to symbolize that I have been driving more than usual, to pick up and drop off our daughter (also a drawn portrait of her) in Utrecht, where she studies. I have been driving to the south of the Netherlands, to visit my mother in law as often as possible in the last months of her life. Our youngest daughter has been stuck home with me and our dog. Sometimes our other daughter will stay for a day or longer. I cherish the time we spend together too. Realizing this might not happen again for such long periods, to have ones adult children back home. We do creative projects, sometimes together. I try to read or puzzle and not binge watch too much TV. Having a dog has been better than it already was, one of us is allowed out after curfew to walk the dog. “- Lidwien
I am seeking Asylum in UK Now everyone else understands Lockdown too No permission to work No space No life no future Just waiting Waiting
My name is Kudi and I made this box with mum and dad. Everyday, I have to patch my right eye for a few hours so the vision in my left eye can be corrected. I don’t particularly like doing it and it is sometimes very hard to keep it on. When I patch, I like to sit with mum and dad in my room and read books. Today, we sat in my room and made this box instead. We made it using all the used eye patches mum has been collecting. We talked about child refugees that may have vision problems like me. Mum explained to me about how difficult it is for refugees to access eye care and how they don’t have the resources to prevent blindness. We said how brave and strong they are. So we named this box “you are brave, you are visible, you are not alone”.
The COVID 19 virus has changed our lives and mindsets forever. We are just exiting a period during which we were forced to stay at home, quarantined and to apply social distancing at all times in order to control the virus’s spreading. Not everyone experienced confinement in the same way; It is always a matter of perspective and context. Every good thing might be bad for someone else because life has not just one taste, nor just one color for everyone. For some of us it has been a dark phase, for others a colorful break.
For each of us Covid 19 was a different challenge: Either to realize that we live our lives like a hamster on a spinning wheel or like a roller coaster, running and running between work, activities and chasing after money, or to struggle facing our own reality, or even worst facing our inner voice and conscience in regards to life, goals, success, failure, anxiety, fears, stress, depression, addictions, desperation.
For those that were living a busy life the lockdown is a happy, colorful memory. For those who were already struggling, this phase became an even darker period with no escape.
Elena Stavropoulou Architects Collaborating with Irene Sobatzi, politcal scientist.
Our reality of the lockdown is about working and collaborating remotely, so we experiment with doing the project together over a video call. We use three techniques: Digital Modelling, Lego and Clay.
We want to design a house where spaces can be broken-up into a good mix of private and sociable areas, to help ease the boredom and occasional tension of staying at home for weeks and weeks. The blocks would contain the more practical spaces in the house, such as bathrooms + utilities, but also provide private bedrooms and a quiet elevated reading room. A series of sculptural, playful elements help to ‘soften’ and ‘humanise’ the internal environment — we imagine they could have been made by the people in the household as a creative lockdown activity!
For The New Yorker magazine in mid-April, Jonathon Blitzer wrote a powerful article about Juan Sanabria, one of New York’s first victims of COVID-19. A well-liked Doorman in the Bronx, only 52 years old, Sanabria became ill rapidly and spent his last days on a ventilator and alone. His step-daughter was only able to communicate with him through a window. It was the first specific story of this situation that I read about and it has stuck with me, as the tragic scenario plays out over and over again.
Ventilators have become a symbol of the pandemic, a twisted pairing of man and machine, while barriers — on the hands, over the face, between conversations, separate us at the times we most need others.
My name is Amélie, I am 8 years old and I attend my absolute favourite primary school in the Netherlands. I love singing together, playing the violin, field-hockey and meeting my friends, and “playing horse” with my older sister on the trampoline in our garden. I really don’t like the Corona virus. I can only see all school friends, singing‑, violin- and hockey-friends through Zoom. But it is very difficult and sad for everyone, perhaps most of all for all grandfathers and grandmothers, all people who are not very healthy and for all refugees. They are not allowed to receive visitors and have nowhere to go. That is why I think this Dollhouse project is very good because especially for them (for refugees) this time is very difficult and sad. We talked a lot about refugees in the making of this house, my mother was also a refugee a long long time ago. I play outside every day (with my sister) and then I have a lot of fun, but we are also sometimes Corona-tired, and then we have a fight more often than usual. In the kitchen I then try to make a treat for all 4 of us, from chocolate, whipped cream and strawberries. And we also have activities digitally (online). And I also play a lot of music with my sister. I wrote my 2nd piece of music (on the computer) and I called it the “Zuiderhoef schiereiland” (Zuiderhoef Peninsula). And we play horse games on the computer, and we get even more bedtime stories from my dad than usual. Thanks for my sister who helped me a bit with my Dolhouse, Greetings Amélie.
This is a bit stark looking, but it’s representing being a child as an adult, looking in at your elderly parents in isolation… I’m quite enjoying lock-down and all the possibilities it throws up, things that you actually have the time to do- but I haven’t seen my mum for nearly 3 months- and she can’t use a computer! I put my Dad in there too, even though he died 3 years ago- I’d love to see them both face to face. When I last saw my mum, she looked like a doll at her window.. We’re all well though, and it’ll be great to enter the dolls house when we surface. Me looking in on them emphasises how roles shift as we get older.
This last month of social distancing and isolation has made me acutely aware of the shift from winter to spring. The blossom trees and flowers are starting to sprout up, providing much needed enjoyment on my daily walk. I wanted my dolls’ house to focus on positive aspects of these strange times. The main focus of my dolls’ house is nature, specifically the view from my desk out to the garden which has been a big source of pleasure in the last few weeks. As we move through spring and the weeks of lockdown continue, the trees get will their leaves and the flowers will bloom. This is something I can look forward to seeing and enjoying.
Welcome to my Rommel box for the Virtual @giantdollshouse! This is a mild representation of how my room will come to look in the coming period… I have come to the conclusion that it’s more than fine not to have my room cleaned up all the time now that we’re in isolation. Not only my room but my life, it’s okay just to take a break and not continue on with life as if nothing has changed or become extra productive.
Hereby my box of light. I feel that during this dark and uncertain period, we are all looking for a little light and positivity.
Many of us have lost our jobs and most of our daily routine. I see a lot of people focussing on making this period as productive as possible. However, I feel that this does not have to be a requirement and can also just be a positive side effect. I have realised that, for me, this is a time to just stand still and focus on the fact that we can just be. It’s okay to just watch TV, paint, read as many books as we want or even drink as much wine as we want. Even when it all get’s a bit grim, remember to find the light in your friends and family!