Poignant and Powerful: Lullaby Blankets

Lullaby Blankets Projeck Jackie McDonald Bhutan Nepalese

Who would have thought that a mother’s lullaby might contain heartbreaking stories of famine, trauma… and also hope. When illustrated in the form of  blankets, such tender lullabies create a moving display of human resiliance.

Lullaby Blanket Project Refugee Asylum Seeker Women Sinhalese Sri Lanka

Then again, it’s not surprising that mums around the world are soothing their children with words that mean something to them. (If I were to write a sleepy-time song for my children, it would surely contain a few hints about what it important to me, such as not waking up before 7am).

It’s just that my concerns seem so petty when compared to some of the lyrics displayed as part of the Lullaby Blanket project, undertaken here in Hobart.

Led by community artist, Jackie McDonald, asylum seeker women used a variety of new and traditional textile skills to create these beautiful blankets. They were on display at the Moonah Taste of the World Festival recently; there’s an audio documentary about the project here.

Examples of the lyrics, translated into English, include:

Baby Boy, Baby Boy

Hello Baby, Please Be Quiet

When Your Hunger is Very Painful

Just Lie Down and Sleep

Better Just Lie Down and Sleep

(From South Sudan, see image below. Blanket made by Mary Poni and Celina Khamis)

Lullaby Blanket South Sudan Refugee Camp Asylum Seeker Hobart

In light of this week’s anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, it is particularly heartbreaking to consider these words to a child:

Who Makes My Child Cry

You Like to Be Treated Well

You Will Be Treated Well

I will Always Treat You Well

(From Rwanda, see image below, blanket made by Epiphanie Uwamariya and Sylvia Muhayimana)

Lullaby Blanket Jackie McDonald Arts Project Rwanda Child Baby

And in Iraq, mothers are crooning to their babies that “you are safe to sleep.” (See below, blanket created by Amal Abovelkashi).

Lullaby Blanket Hobart Arts Project Refugee Iraq Iraqui Women Lullabies

The handiwork on the blankets is lovely, and the objects themselves are worthy of heirloom status. But it’s the sentiments contained within that are so powerful and affecting. They highlight the obvious truth that mothers around the globe, including those fleeing violence or hardship, all want the same things for their babies.

(At top: Nepalese blanket from Bhutan by Indira Sharma. Second from top: Sinhalese blanket from Sri Lanka by Mirmelee Manamperumudalige)

Lullaby Blankets Project Tasmanian Regional Arts Tasmania Hobart Jackie McDonald Refugee Women


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