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Throw Laden Mattress

Belonging to my '(Host)ile' project

The etymology of the word mattress is c.1300, borrowed in Sicily from medieval Arabic al-matrah "(the) large cushion or rug for lying on", literally "the thing thrown down," from taraha "he threw (down)" with noun prefix ma-.

This mattress was slept on by Hada, a Syrian refugee who was sleeping on the landing of an apartment block where I used to live. Hada’s story and the intimate bond him and I developed helped me become aware of how old mattresses are commonly dumped in urban areas and how the mattresses are often slumped, resembling lifeless bodies.

The condition of the mattress and fly tipping represents the general hostility, fear and misunderstanding towards refugees and asylum seekers and the living conditions they have to endure in the UK and across Europe.

Before purpose-made body bags were available, cotton mattress covers were also used, particularly where combat took place during the Second World War.

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