To coincide with International Peace Day on 21 September 2016, an exhibition featuring works by Syrian artists based in Lebanon is due to launch beneath Waterloo train station in London, UK.
International Alert is behind the show, Create Syria: A future constellation (22 September-2 October), which aims to use the arts to draw attention to the plight of Syrian refugees and to capture their hopes for a better future.
Animations, short films, photographs and audio installations will be dotted around the House of Vans exhibition space, which consists of a series of tunnels located underneath the train station.
The featured artists have all been running workshops for displaced Syrian children and young people in refugee camps and other communities across Lebanon, using art to promote self-expression and collaboration. Their message is that Syria is not just about destruction and crises, but also re-growth and creativity.
The artist Abed al Aziz Aidy has produced a film in collaboration with young adults based in a Lebanese refugee camp. The work, entitled 'The camp and my parents' story' is dedicated to archiving oral memories and aims to shed light on the suffering. For Aidy, “art is a process of dismantling society and putting it back together again”.
The painter Mohamed Aloosh will show a series of works made in workshops for displaced Syrian children in Lebanon. These helped develop the creative skills of Syrian children but also their ability to express their emotions, he says.
Syrian animator Karim Qabrawi, actress Raghad Makhlouf, director of the experimental Koon Theatre Ossama Halal, conductor Barkev Taslakian and musician Hannibal Saad will also participate in the show.
“A constellation will link together each of the Syrian artists and their stories, symbolising their shared hopes and dreams for a future without violence,” says Create Syria curator Ying Hsuan-Tai, of Goldsmith's University, London.
The exhibition is inspired by a project run by International Alert in collaboration with the British Council and the independent, Lebanon-based cultural organisation Ettijahat.
In Lebanon, the refugee crisis continues to put pressure on the country and its people, so the need to support both refugees and host community relations is pressing.
“We hope Create Syria will showcase the vibrant artistic scene alive among Syrian artists living in exile and highlight how creativity and expression is opening up space for wonder and calm in a time of crisis and the opportunity to imagine a different future," says Charlotte Onslow, who co-ordinates the Create Syria project at International Alert.
The exhibition will run as part of Talking Peace Festival, a series of cultural events from International Alert designed to spark conversations about peace and conflict through creativity.
Notes for editors
- Venue: House of Vans, Arches, 228-232 Station Approach Road, London SE1 8SW. Nearest tube: Waterloo. (map)
- Dates: 22 September – 2 October 2016
- Opening hours: 4-10pm Thursday – Friday; 10am-8pm Saturday; 12pm-6pm Sunday
Image credit: Scene from a performance by Koon Theatre, an experimental theatre group set up by Create Syria artist Ossama Halal. (Image: © Mohamad Khayata)
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