Sheffield: Sheffield Chilean Arpillera


1970s and 1980s



An arpillera is a brightly coloured patchwork picture made by groups of women, known as arpilleristas. These became popular in Chile during the military dictatorship of 1973-1990 and provided a vital source of income for the arpilleristas, many of whom many were financially insecure due to unemployment and forced disappearances of their husbands.

These arpilleras came from workshops where people were encouraged to express what they went through in terms of torture and exile.

Chile Solidarity Committee chair, Pedro Fuentes

In the 1970s and 1980s, around 300 people from South America arrived in Sheffield, fleeing the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Many Chilean refugees stayed and today a third generation of Chileans are settled in the city.

This arpillera is unusual because it was created by Chilean men in Sheffield. It starts in the centre with the Chilean land and people, then spirals out through the 1973 coup, imprisonment, torture, refuge and the psychological torment of exile, finally ending in acceptance and a feeling of belonging in Sheffield.

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