ACU hosts global art project in support of Afghan girls and women

Australian Catholic University

Two striking glass mosaics on show at ACU’s Melbourne campus are part of a worldwide project designed to draw attention to the plight of Afghan women and girls under the Taliban.

“The eye-catching art installation at ACU’s Christ and Mercy Lecture Theatre building is part of a global project, “Hanging by a Thread”.

Each installation hopes to represent the resilience of Afghan culture beyond its borders. The Victorian artwork was originally exhibited at the Melbourne Immigration Museum before going on show at ACU.

ACU Gallery Director Associate Professor Catherine Bell said the University’s mission and values made it a natural choice to host the exhibition.

“This international community art project is a powerful example of art’s ability to express impact through empathy and raise awareness of the social injustices affecting women,” she said.

Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in 2021, Afghan women and girls have been barred from education and work. Under the regime, art, poetry, music and colourful clothing have been banned.

Each mosaic panel is made of glass and inspired by the motifs that adorn the forbidden traditional costumes of Afghan women. Worldwide, more than 1200 mosaic artists from 46 countries have joined the project – creating unique mosaic ‘scarves’ of all colours to be exhibited in museums and galleries.

The 73 panels of glass mosaic were made by professional artists, hobbyists and novice community members who gathered at workshops to learn and make a panel to show support.

Victorian project coordinator Barb Uhlenbruch led one of the workshops, which saw volunteers from MAANZ work side-by-side with Afghan refugees.

“Despite the diverse range in mosaic skill, the scarves work as a colourful and vibrant whole to reflect Afghan culture and community solidarity in standing for women and girls affected by this human rights crisis,” she said.

“Our goal is to ensure that this project finds as large an audience as possible and in doing so raises awareness of the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.”

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