(Noun. Pronunciation: / faˈvɛlə /Definition of favela in English:

A Brazilian shack or shanty town; a slum: rapidly growing populations in the favelas of the great urban centres)


The UN refugee agency’s annual report shows that 51.2 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, the figures include refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide. About 38.2 million were forcibly uprooted and displaced within their own country and are known as internally displaced people.


My current work explores my fascination with the meaning of home and homelands, adaptation to homelessness and depravation of national identity. Issues of memory, space, history, displacement and identity all come into play. It looks at the forced movement of people from their locality or environment due to the increasing number of civil wars and racial or cultural intolerance. Peoples, who have been uprooted and made their homes in informal settlements characterised by makeshift housing and squalor. The residents suffer from a lack of clean water, sanitation and electricity but most importantly, mental and physical security.


This work captures the yearning of people who make their own way, people who make their own homes, against all odds, against all predictions, guided by the hope for a better life. It captures the relationships between the inhabitants and the sprit of community.


Using moulds, I slip cast the buildings to reveal the internal spaces and memories of home. I worked like a painter and built layers of colour and information using slips, stencils, drawing, screen-printing and decals.

Cast in a thin layer of clay to show the fragile nature of the makeshift building, we know that we will see “Favela” all over the world for many years to come.

Ranjena Gohil