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quayartsThe inaugural Violence Against Women and Girl’s (VAWG) Conference, taking place on Wednesday 30th November at The Riverside Centre, Newport – the first time a conference of this type has taken place on the Island – has commissioned a craft installation aimed at raising awareness of the reality of domestic homicide in the UK.

Tthe Clayden Gallery at Quay Arts in Newport, which opened on Saturday, is hosting a “4.15”, a contemporary craft installation by Island designer, Lauren Fry. She has hand-crafted paper birds – symbolising a freed soul – perched on a mass of paperwork, to highlight the fact that 85 women were killed in the UK last year as a result of domestic homicide, which equates to 1 woman every 4.15 days. The paperwork is formed from tattered pieces of report and articles which have come to represent the diverse and distinctive lives of the 85 women represented in the exhibition.

The stark and thought provoking installation has been commissioned to mark the start of the first VAWG Conference, which aims to give delegates a better understanding of the impact of domestic abuse and how early intervention and prevention can reduce the risk of domestic homicide.

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Speaking about the installation, artist Lauren Fry said:

“I hope that humanising the statistics and presenting the roll of victim’s names from 2015 will inspire change and action. I was contacted by VAWG and asked to put together an art installation for their first conference. I remembered seeing a quote about freeing souls, which regarded human souls like caged birds and this inspired me to use the idea to represent the 85 women who were killed last year in the UK as freed souls – a positive image as opposed to the news stories and statistics that they sadly have been represented as.

“Visitors to the exhibition will also see a map of the UK showing the locations of the 85 deaths reported and is a harrowing representation aimed at challenging people’s perceptions. There will also be reports on the walls at the gallery about each woman so that people are able to read their stories. I hope it will challenge people’s ideas of what a typical domestic homicide victim is like and that there are patterns of behaviour by perpetrators.”

Executive member for public protection, Councillor Phil Jordan, said:

“This harrowing and eye opening craft installation by Lauren, in conjunction with the first ever Violence and Women and Girl’s Conference, is a first for the Island and will go some way in opening up the debate on domestic violence and homicide.

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“The conference will give delegates more information and tools around prevention, information and guidance as well ways to protect victims from domestic violence stigma. The exhibition running in tandem with the conference shows the female victims as so much more than statistics.”

David Huggins, Isle of Wight Council’s domestic abuse coordinator, said:

“The council is an active member of the VAWG Strategic Partnership and the inaugural VAWG Conference will enable delegates from across the Island to learn about preventative work regarding domestic abuse and what it can sadly lead to.

“Our thanks must go to Lauren Fry for coming up with such a thought provoking exhibition and encouraging visitors to confront the issues of domestic homicide, which often starts away from sight within people’s homes. I would urge people to visit this harrowingly beautiful exhibition when it opens on Saturday.”

The handmade paper birds from the exhibition are available to purchase for £5 each, with all the money raised going to the Island Women’s Refuge and Quay Arts.

The exhibition is open between Saturday 19th November and Saturday 3rd December, 10:00 – 16:00 at the Quay Arts Centre Clayden Gallery, Newport.

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