Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, a registered Palestinian NGO located in Gaza city, has been working in the field of deaf education and allied services since 1992. Literally thousands of deaf children and adults and their families are served annually at Atfaluna through deaf education, audiology, speech therapy, income generating programs for the deaf, vocational training, parents', teachers’ and community training and awareness programs, and a host of other services and programs.
As a half Palestinian half Czech designer, I always saw my point of view in design of taking the traditional Palestinian heritage and presenting it in a new “European” way. My aesthetic has always driven me to plunge into designs incorporating symbols typical of Palestine or calligraphy. When I was invited to take part on this project I had no idea what I was going to do, and I enjoyed brainstorming and hanging out with the various designers; seeing my native city Bethlehem through their eyes. My biggest realization was that as much as I looked through my European part upon my Palestinian heritage and surrounding I would never be able to see what they saw —despite the fact that I lived abroad for more than 10 years. This realization drove me to design what I call the “identity collection” or series, which start from a finger print telling the story of each Palestinian carrying a hawwyieh (Palestinian ID card) having to pass the checkpoint, to olive wood heel platform sandals decorated with the Palestinian kuffiyeh, and beautiful colorful happy mosaic and clay map of Palestine rings. All in referral to how this journey helped me realize that I will always see Palestine, and always refer to it in my work, through my Palestinian eyes, because that is who I am, that is my identity.
I am very grateful for all the people whom I met throughout this journey, many have been so helpful and patient with me and taught me new things, which helped my ideas and work come to life. Some of the artisans were a revelation to me, as I stumbled upon them like upon a treasure chest in a desert. I was so inspired by the many personalities and stories I have encountered in those short two weeks, and I loved every bit of it. The workshop has inspired me to do so much more and work with new materials, as well as taken me to far away cities in Palestine like Qalqilya and Tulkarem —which are hard for me to reach otherwise.
I hope this project will bring a lot of opportunities to the local artisans we worked with, as they work hard every day and are undervalued. I am stunned at their craftsmanship and modesty and hope that this is only the beginning of a great revolution on the local handmade goods market!
Fakhoury Pottery and Karakashian Pottery in Hebron and Jerusalem respectively supply our beautiful handpainted Palestinian ceramics. The Fakhoury’s come from a long line of potters and, in fact, the name Fakhoury even means “potter” in Arabic. Their shop is located in the old city of Hebron where Israeli soldiers and settlers routinely physically and verbally harass Palestinians. Despite the difficulties, the family is determined to keep their store open and their craft alive. The Karakashian studio in Jerusalem continues the family tradition that began in 1922 when Megerditch Karakashian came to Jerusalem to help renovate the Dome of the Rock. All the motifs are traditional designs - birds, peacocks, gazelles, fish and various floral patterns. Each piece is hand painted with a hand made brush.
Areej is an artist and designer based in Jerusalem, currently studying at Bezel Academy of Art and Design.
"Actually I think that Palestinians are always afraid of doing things they think they are forbidden to do. They think they are forbidden of most of the things, as a state of mind, then it comes out that actually nobody cares. This is something that we as Palestinians must change in our mindset. You can’t live being always scared and nervous. We have to start to make things, being confident about ourselves, our projects and desires."
Martin Petrelli is an Italian designer and documentarian who has spent most of her life in flux, moving from one country to another. In her travels, she has developed a keen eye for collecting, recording and archiving. In collaboration with Donna Verheijden she filmed a documentary, The House of the Eyes, in the West Bank during the fist Palestinian Art biennale which also coincided with the latest attacks in Gaza.