Soles & Stories saw nine Dubai based nannies/domestic workers shaking their creative bones and transforming some blank TOMS shoes into artworks inspired by their own journeys.
The nine shoe artists shared their personal stories, the joy and the pain of the journeys that brought them to today, and their hopes for where their journeys will take them tomorrow and beyond.
Here is Ramani, her story and her soles.
Creatively telling her story through a blank pair of shoes is a perfect outlet for Ramani, as her own story is stitched together with creativity.
Ramani’s mother used to decorate saris at a large factory in Sri Lanka, and her passion and skills were passed on to Ramani who inherited a love for handicraft. From the art of using a loom, to creating intricate patterns on cloth, Ramani’s mother fostered her daughters creativity with cloth, and particularly the traditional art of Batik, a fabric made using waxing and dye techniques.
Ramani would have followed her mother and continued to make saris back in Sri Lanka, but her own role as a mother led her down a different path. The civil war in Sri Lanka, a lack of job opportunities, and the desire to provide her two young girls with the best education possible put Ramani on a plane to Dubai.
That was ten years ago, and even though a lot has changed in those ten years, the opportunity to provide for her family keeps her in Dubai.
Back in Sri Lanka her youngest daughter Rashme is about to start her first year of high school and is looking forward to putting her love of mathematics to good use. Ramani’s eldest daughter Ribme, is at the other end of her time in high school and is just finishing her last year. She loves art and is very creative, something she no doubt inherited from her mother and grandmother.
Ramani stays constantly updated with her daughters and life back home via skype and phone calls, and says her return to Sri Lanka will happen once her daughters no longer need her support.
The story behind the soles
Sri Lanka holds a lot of creative memories for Ramani and the blue flower on the inside front of the shoes represents the national flower of Sri Lanka – the blue lotus. The shape of the island of Sri Lanka also takes pride of place on the front of the shoes. The red form on the side of the shoes is a small version of a popular Batik shape Ramani used to stitch onto trousers, and Ramani used red to make sure it stood out from the natural colour of the shoes.
All of the designs have been created using fabric paint, hand stitching, and a very steady hand.