As a visual artist, Miriam Mc Connon works with families who have been recently or in the past been displaced because of war. Her work in concerned with excavating the personal experience of displacement from the collective stories.
In this new series of work, she looks at the opposing narratives of the refugee and the non-refugee. The work incorporates personal objects from the refugee’s migratory journey. These visual testimonies expose a commonality between the current global restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic and the constant reality for those displaced by conflict.
In the ‘NO More Time’ series, Mc Connon integrates elements of childhood with imagery from the narrative of war. She presents an empty school desk in front of a blackboard covered in a Syrian child’s drawing of home, a wall of redundant vanity cases and rows of stacked red school chairs. Another painting portrays oversized Lego bricks scattered in a bombed-out building. This series exposes the role that privilege plays in the global pandemic, acknowledging the contrast between the interruption of childhood due to the covid pandemic and the loss of childhood due to war.
The repetition of the tales of conflict and displacement throughout history leaves the personal narrative endangered. Mc Connon relates Cypriot and Syrian stories of displacement in her paintings, depicting these similar narratives that were decades apart through patterns of traditional weave and lace.
Through installation and painting, Mc Connon employs objects to construct new objects, reimagining them as objects anchored to ideas of conflict and home. By altering the identity of an object in her work, Mc Connon aims to alter perceptions. Passports become tents in a refugee camp, the ammunition from a child’s toy gun become flowers, an infant bracelet takes on the form of a tank and envelopes become homes. The envelope is an object that easily crosses borders. In the installation ‘Envelope Homes, the artist makes the envelope a settled entity and a symbol of home. During the pandemic, our homes became our safe houses and our quarantine. But for a large population of the world, the idea of a safe place to call home is non-existent.
This exhibition serves as a reminder that the freedom of movement, access to medicine and education are indeed a privilege.