The “Silk Bridges” Initiative

Empowering refugees through creativity and art

Summary: “Silk Bridges”, based on the concept of the famous and historic “Silk Road”, is an initiative for connecting refugees’ artistic expression and culture with people all over the world. This initiative features a series of artistic workshops so as to empower refugee children along with their parents to acquire painting techniques and print their own designs on silk scarves. MANTILITY will provide 100% of the profits of the final co-created silk scarves to these children in order to fund creative and artistic activities of their choice.

Some interesting numbers:

  • 32 participants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan
  • 2 workshops, 2 meetups
  • 300 different paintings
  • 60 hours of work to make it a reality (from idea to workshops to final scarves)
  • 10 hours of fun and creativity
  • 5 main sponsors (transportation, venue, photography, video, art teaching)
  • 2 unique scarves

Background and Goal: Since 2016, more than 1.000 refugees and migrants live in Kavala Refugee Camp, Greece. Kavala is a picturesque town that is also mainly populated by refugees after a devastating Greek-Turkish war and a compulsory population exchange in 1923.

“Silk Bridges” is an initiative for re-connecting people and cultures from different countries. The most lasting legacy of the Silk Road has been its role in bringing cultures and peoples in contact with each other, and facilitating exchange between them. Cultural interaction was a vital aspect of material exchange. Knowledge about science, arts and literature, as well as crafts and technologies was shared across the Silk Roads, and in this way, languages, religions and cultures developed and influenced one other. We dream to co-create cultural silk bridges through our MANTILITY Gallery and connect the different cultures and arts.

This project helps participants develop their self-discipline, creativity and artistic skills as well as have fun. Through a series of workshops in a unique venue, children along with their parents are empowered to co-create designs, acquire painting techniques and print their own designs on silk scarves. Their silk scarves function as a platform for their voices in the international community. 100% of the profits of these scarves will be provided to these children in order to fund creative and artistic activities of their choice in order to further improve their experience through art.

Why this is important to our brand: MANTILITY is a meeting point, a new place for expression, a multidimensional & multicultural artistic collectivity. It is the silky thread that connects the fauna and flora with people, their art and their techniques. This thread also aspires to connect different cultures and habits.

Implementation: 24 Children with their parents who were willing to be part of the “Silk Bridges” initiative participated in 2 half day art-related workshops that were developed and implemented by art teacher Olga Kakoulidou. The motto of the workshops was: “Mood for creation, cooperation & joy!”

The workshops were held at Imaret; On the peninsula of “Panagia”, overlooking Kavala’s old port,  the monument was established in the 19th century as a religious, educational and charitable institution, currently fully restored and converted into a luxury hotel. It should be noted that from the end of 1922 the spaces of the Imaret were used for some years to house refugees.

During the workshops, participants worked in groups and used various painting activities, including “blind painting”, “painting using objects from home”, “stories with colors”, “tables with words and names”, “roll a Picasso”, “color wheel”.  Activities allowed participants to have fun, open up and visually express themselves and narrate their own life stories or journey or just share their message.

Based on the artworks from participants, the MANTILITY team in collaboration with Olga Kakoulidou created various digital collages transforming the participants’ work into two final unique silk bridges scarves!

These scarves will be available for sale on Summer 2020 in our online gallery. 100% of the profits of these scarves will be donated to these children in order to fund creative and artistic activities of their choice like painting materials of session fees. Our team hopes that this project will highlight the beauty that lies in diversity and the power of culture and art as a vehicle for empowerment and dissemination.


Special thanks:

Veroniki Agopian | Project manager

Kostas Vlastaris | Educational consulting

Hotel Imaret & MOHA Research Center  | Venue and consulting support

Olga Kakoulidou | Art advisor – Head of workshops implementation

Stathis Pavlidis | Cinematography & editing

George Ouzounis | Photography & editing

Axiotis Ioakim, Kostas Vlastaris | Workshop supplies

Kavala tours | Transfer

Anastasia Kalaitzidou | Workshop implementation support

Xanthippi Akritidou | Legal support