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Around the World in 80 Washing Lines

“A social art project pegging us together, around the world, irrespective of who, what or where we are"

A photo of monks praying in unison in Lumbini, Nepal, the home and birthplace of Praying monks in Lumbini, Nepal - the birthplace of the Gautama Buddha

Image: Prayer flags in Nepal, reminiscent of laundry

Painting of abstract artist's contemporary work based on international art in Nepal

Image: Painting "Look! They Also Dry Their Clothes"

Image: Montage of washing line images from around the world


‘Around the World in 80 Washing Lines’ (#80WashingLines) is based upon the concept of humanity, connectedness and all that we have in common with each another. With the accessible image of clothes hanging out to dry, the project contains 80 visual stories of washing lines from 80 different countries around the world. Each image is accompanied by an extract of the person behind the washing line, derived from an interview conducted with the participant, providing a unique snapshot into their life.

As we live through a global pandemic, we are all trying to find ways to connect with each other and the world around us. This project does just that. It is a simple yet poignant reminder of what connects us: the simple, essential activity of laundry, but also a whole lot more.

Image: Menier Gallery, London. Courtesy of Creative Commercial Photography


Inspired by the book title ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ by Jules Verne, this project is an extension of the thought process behind the painting “Look! They Also Dry Their Clothes!” from my first art exhibition ‘Kathmandu Calling!’.
The painting is reminiscent of the prayer flags strung along the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, where I spent three months travelling and volunteering. The prayer flags reminded me of washing lines and how this simple task of laundry connects and unites us, all around the globe - irrespective of the day-to-day judgements, structures and classifications by which societies are ruled, governed – and ultimately divided by.

"It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, who you are, or what you do – we all have laundry to do!"

The Story
The project grew organically, with original funding from Reading's Cultural & Educational Partnership for its ‘Year of Culture’ celebrations. Workshops with local cultural and community groups were held to inform the project, and these contributions then formed mini on-site exhibitions in launderettes around Reading. The BBC reported on this in the initial stages. 

It took well over a year to find these 80 participants from 80 countries, and I had rich conversations with people from all over the world and captured the personal stories behind each washing line. Each story was written up and accompanied with the laundry photo sent in that then formed the final exhibition.

Later, Arts Council England (ACE) funding was obtained, and a full-scale laundry art installation formed. This immersive exhibition was autism-friendly and multi-sensory, so visitors could see, touch and smell the exhibition items, as well as listen out for the sounds of laundry taking place. The National Autistic Society supported the exhibition as it toured Reading, Slough and London, with warm-up gigs at launderettes Dirty Laundry (Wandsworth, London) and Washbox (Reading). 


The social messaging of connectedness and similarities between humans across the world remains as poignant as ever, and this remains the core premise upon which the project was built. I am currently exploring ways in which I can create a new hybrid (both online and in-person), modern-day version of #80WashingLines that is reflective of the times we live in. If you would like to feed into this, please check out the online prototype of the project here.

Mahlia Amatina talks to the BBC about... 
                                        'Around the World in 80 Washing Lines'

Launderette Report
BBC Exhibition Report
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