The Eight Leaf Roses- cross-cultural art project

“This is my gold which I sold all to the smugglers to get here”

The project was funded by the Reykjavík City Council for Culture and Tourism.
The project is based on a cross-cultural art project that took place in Gerðuberg Cultural Center in cooperation with Breiðholt family center and the Icelandic Red Cross.
The women that took part were both of Icelandic and foreign origin.
The women of foreign origin all came to Iceland last year and are Kurds from Iraq. Some have been granted asylum, one of the women was refused asylum status and does not know when she, her young son and husband will be deported. In the meantime, others still wait, stuck between hope and fear, not knowing whether their asylum request will be accepted or rejected.
The project enhanced my vision and showed the possibilities of creative work and how important it is to develop practical theory of teaching to evaluate what works.
One of the things I found to be very enlightening was learning about Islamic attitudes towards education. It was very clear how important it was for participants that education should not just be beneficial for them personally, but for society in general.
The creative part was a key factor for the project.
The idea of community-based art was the guiding light; it was the participants that were in charge. My role was first and foremost to listen and support their ideas, whether it was introducing us to food from their country of origin or telling us about the meaning of their work.
This created a space for the women to express their sorrows and fears, hopes and dreams, and allow us to gain insight into their experiences and perspective on life.


Elsa Arnardóttir
elsaarnar [at]
Advisors: Dr. Ásthildur B. Jónsdóttir og Dr. Ellen Gunnarsdóttir