Daniel Sinsel

artist

The Room To Heal

London, UK

nets

Photography by unu O unu

“offering a space to heal to people with traumatic pasts can be done with directness and with little bureaucracy.”

In 2016, unu O unu and artist Daniel Sinsel teamed with Room to Heal — a human rights charity supporting people who have survived torture and organised violence.

Daniel Sinsel is a German born, London based artist known for his paintings and sculptures, and especially by his works that trace the indistinct boundaries between them. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, most recently in Sadie Coles, London and Office Baroque, Brussels. He counts influences from the Old Masters to Baroque sculpture and Bauhaus, and his materials range from the organic (clay, teeth, silk and skin), to the comestible (hazelnuts and gingerbread), and the precious (gemstones, ivory and gold). His works often employ techniques of painting, weaving, sewing and cracking (nutshells) that demand precision and labour, thus establishing a clear language of material, form, and action.

Room to Heal, founded in 2007, supports refugees and asylum seekers who have experienced torture and human rights abuses. At the heart of Room to Heal is a healing community through which members re-establish trust, address the trauma they have experienced and move out of isolation. Alongside therapeutic support, they offer practical casework assistance and a range of creative and social activities, enabling people to rebuild meaningful lives in the UK.
After learning about this manner of therapeutic community-based practice, unu O unu instigated this collaboration with members of Room to Heal and Daniel Sinsel. They felt that a democratic system that focused on commonalities across cultures was essential when working with people, and that the process of creating a work of art must be of equal importance as the final outcome: Daniel’s approach to material and production inherently embodied these points.

Looking to his own current studio techniques, Daniel began to develop ideas around weaving, considering crafts that were widely accessible – both in terms of recognition of the form and the attainability of the technique for people with ranging levels of skills. The idea of the net emerged as the perfect object and symbol to work with: a structure that relies on absence for its strength, and that can hold and protect, as well as constrain.

Over the course of the two-day workshop, a group of refugees from Iran, DRC, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda came together to work with Daniel. He describes arriving with no preconceived ideas of the people or the complex and often tragic situations from which they came. Equally, he didn’t have an agenda to make narratives out of people’s experiences or strive to address any greater political subject. Rather, the creation of the nets was a transparent and shared process, taking form and strength from the people who participated.

For Daniel, the net symbolises how the course of a lifetime is marked by the accumulation of memories, peoples, places and things. The multitude of its parts makes the object, but without something to hold, it is a redundant thing. The workshops began with nothing – strings and people only, but through the process of tying and working together, the nets grew and so did the connections between the group. Conversations ranged from African music to Iranian poetry, and so did a sense of shared experience and humanity. A net is a tool, a practical thing, and under Daniel’s guidance, an intimate power of objects was revealed, and the customary subjects of his works – the foodstuffs and stones and underwear – become familiar domestic objects as well as sacred or ceremonial items, and making art is primarily a means of engagement. Ultimately, the work that Room to Heal undertakes, that allows people to re-establish themselves in society with a sense of purpose and ownership over their lives, is made tangible through the brief encounters between equals, such as this.

Text by Lindsay Sekulowicz

Daniel Sinsel and Lucy01

£500

Daniel Sinsel and Lucy01

Linen ribbon net mounted on yellow casein coated linen canvas stretched on a wooden frame

42.4 cm high × 35.5 cm long × 2cm wide (frame)

£500




Daniel Sinsel and Edy

£500

Daniel Sinsel and Edy

Fine threaded net mounted on blue casein coated linen canvas stretched on a wooden frame

42.2 cm high × 30.5 cm long × 2 cm wide (frame)

£500




Daniel Sinsel and Mamadou

£500

Daniel Sinsel and Mamadou

Cotton string and jute fabric ribbons mounted on a linen cavas coated with dirty rose pink casein stretched on a wooden frame

42.2 cm high × 30.5 cm long × 2 cm wide (frame)

£500




Daniel Sinsel and Abbas

£500

Daniel Sinsel and Abbas

Threaded and silk clay spider web and honeycomb net mounted on a linen canvas coated in grey blue casein and stretched on a wooden frame

42.2 cm high × 30.5 cm long × 2 cm wide (frame)

£500




Daniel Sinsel and Carinne Z.

£500

Daniel Sinsel and Carinne Z.

Fabric ribbon and silk clay posh dog net mounted on a linen canvas coated in burnt orange casein and stretched on a wooden frame

30.5 cm high × 42.2 cm long × 2 cm wide (frame)

£500




Daniel Sinsel and Happy

£500

Daniel Sinsel and Happy

Thread and silk clay net mounted on a linen canvas coated in blue grey casein and stretched on a wooden frame

42.2 cm high × 30.5 cm long × 2 cm wide (frame)

£500




Daniel Sinsel and Lucy02

£500

Daniel Sinsel and Lucy02

casein and jute on linen

42.2 cm high × 35.5 cm long × 2 cm wide (frame)

£500