Jordan. Syrian refugees transform used tents into vibrant works of art

This tent, given the theme ‘Memories’, was inspired by the symbolist painter Gustav Klimt and by the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani about the Syrian capital Damascus. The tent was painted in the courtyard of a refugee centre in Irbid, northern Jordan. ; During her study trip to Jordan, 23-year-old British artist Hannah Rose Thomas heard some of the refugees’ stories and came up with the idea of recycling old UNHCR tents as a canvas for refugees to express themselves on. The results have been so powerful that the tents are now set to be exhibited in locations across the world.

“The goal was to turn these symbols of loss and displacement into beautiful pieces of art, in order to raise awareness for the plight of refugees,” Hannah told UNHCR in London. “We played with the idea of ‘fragments’, ‘pieces’ and ‘shattered lives.’ Lives fall apart when forcefully expelled from their homes and need to be rebuilt again.”

Around 200 refugees, young and old, male and female, were involved in painting three UNHCR tents, with each one taking around three days to paint. Refugees were encouraged to express their feelings through their painting, or to write poetry, or whatever artistic medium came to them, whilst being given broad themes of hope, memories and the impact of war on families.

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