Carving Time

earrings and carved pencils hanging on grey screen
Image: James Bryant

Thursday 7 November – Friday 31 January 2020

House of Hatton
Hatton Garden,

Opening times:
Monday to Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sunday: Closed

An exhibition of work by Tarek from Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan.

Carving Time is an exhibition of work by artist Tarek from Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan. Tarek is a former construction worker from Daraa, Syria. In 2012, he, his wife and five children were forced to flee their home to find safety in Zaatari. They have been there ever since. 

Tarek’s talent for carving beautiful pieces from everyday objects found in camp was noticed by social artist and designer, Professor Helen Storey RDI MBE who, after working in Za’atari for 2 years, was in January 2019 made Zaatari’s first ever UNHCR Artist in Residence, reflecting UNHCR and London College of Fashion’s long-term commitment to supporting innovative, art and cultural livelihood projects in Zaatari. 

For the past year, Helen and Tarek have worked in collaboration, developing a unique collection of artefacts and jewellery including pencils, whose lead is carved into fine chain earrings, and a broom, which along the length of its handle depicts Tarek’s entire life in carving, from his birth to his arrival in Zaatari. Tarek describes his work as a way to express his inner world, with each intricate piece taking between 1.5 days to 1.5 months to carve. Every item has tiny details and characteristics to make each carving unique. 

Tarek said: “I dreamed of sculpture and drawing during my childhood – this craft is a way to express my inner world and to pass the time. I consider myself an amateur and try my best to be an artist the world notices.” 

Professor Helen Storey said: “Tarek’s work is important because it is symbolic of what it means to be him. He has developed a language through his work that speaks to the world beyond the camp.” 

UNHCR Zaatari Camp manager, Ms. Irene Omondi said: Supporting the creativeness in refugees is important factor to promote their stories and dreams. Many talented refugees are waiting for a chance to show their work to the world. Thanks to the collaboration between UNHCR and London College of Fashion for providing this opportunity to Tarek. Refugees artists need creative solutions to support their livelihood” 

All of Tarek’s pieces are for sale within an exhibition curated by leading fashion curators, Amy de la Haye and Judith Clark co-directors of the Centre for Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion, UAL, with assistance from London College of Fashion, UAL MA Fashion Curation alumna Cicely-Rose Proctor. 

The exhibition is testament to the generosity of those welcoming and supporting refugees. Tony, the owner of House of Hatton, gifted the space to showcase Tarek’s work and the talents and gifts that he has. 

View the press release for ‘Carving Time’

Further information on this project via CSF’s website.

Image credit: Charlie Smith