In 2017 I was approached to encapsulate the plight of a group of stigmatised women and children from Vietnam called the Lai Dai Han, (meaning children of mixed blood).
The Lai Dai Han are the children of the tens of thousands of women who were raped by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam war
The children of the Lai Dai Han have lived a life of stigma, shame and exclusion. This sculpture depicts a child sheltering under its mother away from that stigma.
At its heart, this sculpture is inspired by the strength of the mothers and the bond of love between a mother who has given everything to bring up and protect a child born to her through a violent and traumatising assault.
The sculpture is designed as two trees growing together, ensnared by a strangler fig which is a metaphor for the mental and physical binds which have ensnared these women as victims of rape in war. The sculpture has discarded bits of wood and bark imbedded in it to signify the way in which they have both been treated by Vietnam and South Korea.
The campaign was launched in the House of Commons, by Jack Straw, William Hague and Nadia Murad, recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. It was the first of a number of planned events to raise awareness for the use of Rape as a weapon of war. The final sculpture was unveiled in 2019 in Church House, Westminster, and you can currently find her in St. James's Sq, London.
The Making of The Sculpture
The 2-meter clay sculpture took 4 months of building and modelling, building up from a metal structure to the final clay model.
Photo credits: Pierce Belmont www.laidaihanjustice.org