Refugees carry their home on their back. A Balkan tortoiseshell and a Mediterranean seashell are trapped inside the solid block, flipped over, rendered defenceless. The void left suggests abandonment, defeat and violence of forceful expatriation from Turkey shores to Greek mountains. From an inhospitable origin to a hostile destination, these family pieces examine notions of displacement and reflect the important link of people with their place.
Mediterranean seashell belongs to the species ‘Bolinus brandaris’, from which the Tyrian purple was extracted in the ancient world, harvested by snails found off the coast of Phoenicia. In Byzantium it was one of the costliest colours, used to die the emperor’s clothes and therefore in Greek history it has been associated with power and wealth. As such it alludes to the destruction of the Empire once uniting the two countries. Silencing sound, ancient Greek ‘chelys’ (tortoise shell lyre) highlights the relationship of Pontians with music. Seashell plays the sound of the sea connecting and separating the two countries. The same sea continues to be the passage of the refugees’ journey today.