This patchwork QR code is created from archival imagery from collections across the north of England. Women are depicted sitting indoors, quietly, heads bent, fingers busy, often alone. They sew stitch after stitch, chop vegetables and wash clothes. st.itch imagines where the mind travels to when the body is engaged in repetitive, seemingly invisible manual work.
Embedded in this patchwork are four screens and 25 QR codes. Each video opens up dream-like realms, where through a series of slow burn animations both the sewing women and embroideries they make come alive to unravel the threads of women’s inner worlds.
Using the aesthetic of cybernetics and the languages of code and computer programming – which depend on binaries and repetition – Shafiq inserts glitches between these archival images and creates escape routes for daydreams.
As you pass through Leeds Train Station, you might be travelling to or from work, or thinking about jobs you have to do at home. This artwork invites you to think through the part of us that escapes tasks and responsibilities, the small pockets of freedom that a meandering mind provides.
st.itch at Leeds Train Station is presented by Afrah Shafiq in collaboration with The Tetley, made in partnership with LEEDS 2023: Year of Culture and the British Council.
Afrah Shafiq is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Goa, India. Her work emerges from long-term engagements with archives – both institutional and informal – as well as stories and other fugitive material across the internet.