arwen-rich profile photo

My practice is rooted in the exploration of the right to protest and the evolution of activism in socio-political contexts, aiming to provoke critical reflection on the complexities of activism and the enduring relevance of protest in our society.

Yellow Umbrellas embroidered with the names of protestors

“Freedom of speech is a human right and the foundation upon which democracy is built. Any restriction of freedom of speech is a restriction upon democracy.”

Deeyah Khan (2015)

My Practice

Through my art practice, I explore themes of activism, resistance, and the fundamental right to protest in the face of adversity and authority. Inspired by the tumultuous events of the 2019 Hong Kong protests and the rich history of British protest movements, my work invites viewers to reflect on the complexities of social change, the delicate balance of freedom of speech, and the challenges confronted by those who dare to speak out against oppression. By weaving together narratives from both Eastern and Western protest traditions, my work seeks to invite conversations about the transformative power of collective action, the inherent fragility of freedom, and the enduring resilience of those who strive for a more just and equitable society.

Completed & Ongoing Works

“Threads of Resistance”

Delved into the intersection of protest and heritage through a series of five embroidered umbrellas. Each umbrella bore the names of individuals arrested during the 2019 Hong Kong protests, symbolizing both protection and vulnerability. This work reflected my own dual heritage, being half English and half Chinese, and served as a tribute to the resilience of those who stood up for their basic human rights. By blending traditional embroidery with contemporary political themes, I aimed to create a dialogue on cultural identity, social justice, and the human cost of resistance. Through this project, I invited viewers to reflect on the complexities of heritage and the enduring importance of standing up for one’s beliefs.

Threads of Resistance’ 2023-2024, Plastic umbrellas, embroidered with names of arrested protesters in mohair yarn, 90cm x 107cm

Dissemble’ 2023-2024 Arwen Rich, Photographs of AI-generated images, image transferred onto canvas embroidered with quotes from ‘Hong Kong’s Fight For Freedom’, A3. On the effects of surveillance used for state control.

Process of ongoing “ID card” armour works representing the current legal requirement in Hong Kong for protestors to wear identification numbers linked to their personal information during authorised “demonstrations” connected using cable ties analogous of those used as handcuffs.