Crafting a life for refugee artisans
La Fabrique Nomade helps artisans who are refugees continue their craft in France.
For skilled artisans who are forced to flee their country, the prospect of living a life of art as a refugee seems impossible. La Fabrique Nomade, a UNHCR-supported NGO, is seeking to change that.
© UNHCR/Kamilia Lahrichi
PARIS, France – Many hands are at work in Yasir Elamine’s pottery workshop in Paris. They cut, pound, squeeze, stencil and shape.
Yasir, a potter from Sudan, and his French students swap ideas and aesthetics. As a refugee, he thought his life as an artist was over. The work of La Fabrique Nomade, a UNHCR-supported NGO, helped change his mind.
La Fabrique Nomade encourages artisans among refugee and immigrant communities to retain and pass on their traditional crafts, from weaving and embroidery to pottery and woodworking.
The group promotes their work and showcases it at design fairs. It supports the artists themselves, helping them to make connections in the art and design scene in France. It helps equip them with basic job-seeking skills such as building a portfolio and CV.
The founder of La Fabrique Nomade, Inès Mesmar, says the goal is not just to enable refugees to use their talents but also to share valuable skills with the local community. For refugees, she says, it is about changing attitudes, “to allow them to transmit their knowledge, rather than being people who just receive help and assistance”.
Yasir agrees. It has put him back in touch with a world he thought was lost to him forever.