Lekazia Turner, embroiderer from Jamaica, 2022

Lina Abd Allah & Rasmieh Ali Abu Salem

refugees from palestine supported by Al Badia in LEBANOn


SECTION OF DRESS: Traditional Cross Stitch

One of the first commissions on the dress, that impacted the project deeply.

Text written by Kirstie Macleod

There are 2 beautifully embroidered shoulder pieces on the dress, created in Lebanon by Lina Abd Allah and Rasmieh Ali Abu Salem in 2009. Both are refugees from Palestine being supported by Al Badia, a Najdeh Association program and commercial outlet enabling Palestinian refugees to earn a small income by stitching traditional embroidery.

Al Badia's products are an important source of income for women in the refugee camps who work either at home or at workshops set up as part of the Nejdeh embroidery project. Al Badia offers a range of articles including cushion covers, table covers, napkins, wall hangings, bags and purses, scarves and shawls, skirts, blouses, vest and waistcoats for men, abayas and traditional Palestinian dresses (see link below).

It was one of the first commissions on the dress, and communication (over email) was quite difficult. The work was sent quickly but sadly after 11 years I am yet to learn the names of the 2 ladies who embroidered the panels, and understand more about the motifs in the embroidery they created. I do however have a photograph of the women and am hopeful that one day I will be able to properly credit and collaborate with them.

Here is an excerpt from a beautifully written article ‘Stitching a Homeland: Palestinians find refuge embroidering for al-Badia’ by Stephanie Saldana for the Daily Star Lebanon, that explains a little of how important and significant embroidery is within the Palestinian culture.

“….Though these women may never see Palestine, to embroider is to understand that in the world of cloth, and perhaps in reality, Ramallah and Hebron have different cyprus trees, Bethlehem and Jerusalem have different roses. Even the “gates of heaven,” a traditional Palestinian stitch, rise differently depending on your origins….”

See the full article here: https://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Art/2001/Dec-14/100629-stitching-a-homeland-palestinians-find-refuge-embroidering-for-al-badia.ashx

For more info, to buy products or to arrange commissions please the website: https://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/300/360/362/najdeh/albadia/


A huge thank you to all who have given their time, energy, enthusiasm, advice, experience and financial support to the Red Dress project over the years.

In addition to the institutions below, funding has been gratefully received from a number of private donations and 441 individuals around the world via 2 Crowdfunding campaigns in 2020 and 2022.

Nothing expresses more eloquently the feelings I suspect we share about the importance of embroidery in our lives, and the support we derive from the friendships made through stitch, than Kirstie Macleod’s Red Dress.
Caroline Zoob, Editor of Stitchers Journal 2022
This beautiful object highlights the common ground between individuals, bringing together different identities and uniting people, we are honoured to contribute to it.
Tiny Kox, PACE President at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg 2023
The Red Dress has become an icon of the international textile world.
Suzanne Smith, Textile Society 2022
The Red Dress in its final incarnation, a magnificent, regal robe, symbolises the empowerment of women through the creation of something beautiful, something which began with bowed heads and tired fingers but also with faith and joy, an openness and willingness to be a part of something which they could not see at that time but in which they could believe had meaning and worth connecting with other women around the world.
Lady Alison Myners, Chair of the Royal Academy Trust 2020
The Red Dress is in some respects similar to Mail Art, the populist artistic movement centred on sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of the Fluxus movement in the 1950s and 60s – but on a larger scale – the journey of the work is part of its identity, process, and in fact function. A signifier of the temporal and physical nature of the process inherent in the creation of the piece. The surface of the dress layered with embroidery slowly transforming into a specific topographical map – completely particular to the work’s journey – and reflective of the burgeoning sculptural landscape of the object.
Paul Black, Artlyst 2015
It’s her (Kirstie’s) red silk Dupion bodice and voluminous skirt created for the Red Dress that fully demonstrates her commitment to embroidery and the immense respect for the international community of makers.
Denna Jones. Embroidery Magazine 2010
...the fact that they could embroider what they wanted and that it is appreciated has given them some strength, some confidence that I didn’t feel so strongly before they created the embroideries.
Nicole Esselan, Founder of Kisany Africa, supporting artisans in DR CONGO and RWANDA who created embroidery on the Red Dress in 2018
This is both an extraordinary work of collective art and profound and eloquent social commentary. It is also an example of how potent the Attire language is capable of becoming.
Attires Mind (Fashion Blogger) 2020
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