Banksy has partnered with Love Welcomes to create a hand stitched mat made from abandoned life vests.
The vests are from the beaches of the Mediterranean. According to the description of the mat, the materials are from cheap fake life vests sold by people smugglers. They do not actually float.
Banksy will commission women living in refugee camps to hand sew mats using life vests found on Lesvos beaches.
Love Welcomes is a creative social enterprise that helps refugee women “begin to stitch their lives back together.” They reclaim the life vests and blankets worn by Syrians as they wash up on European shores.
Proceeds from each sale go directly to the woman who wove it. All profits support refugees including language lessons, computer training and transportation. Their aim is to empower refugees to support themselves and their families. They focus on employable skills, providing them with dignity and the ability to positively contribute to society.
Launched in 2017 by Thistle Farms, Love Welcomes was created in response to the refugee crisis witnessed first-hand by a Thistle Farms board member in refugee camps in Greece. Becca Stevens, President and founder of Thistle Farms, came up with the idea of weaving welcome mats from life vests as a way for women in the refugee camps to generate income for themselves.
The listing, at $645 USD, reads:
This mat is hand stitched using the fabric from life vests abandoned on the beaches of the Mediterranean. Customers are advised they no longer constitute a valid buoyancy aid – although shockingly many never did – they’re cheap fakes sold by people smugglers and don’t actually float.
To fabricate the mats Banksy has teamed up with the organisation ‘Love Welcomes’ who work with women in detainment camps in Greece. You can make your order by visiting their website here. All proceeds are retained locally to help refugees access key services.
Life vest not included.
The description of Banksy’s new show says “GDP is the homewares brand from Banksy and this is our first and only store. The showroom is for display purposes only and the doors will not open. All sales will be conducted online when the website finally opens. “