Our 2019 Exhibition: Lives In Transit

by Orson Gard

Lives in Transit, our final exhibition for 2018/19

Across the world, millions of people have been forced into a transitory existence. Not only must they face perilous journeys from their home countries to host states, but their struggle to escape persecution, conflict and famine, coupled with the bureaucratic nature of our asylum systems means that refugees often spend much of their lives in transit. At COLOURS, we recognise this and want to use our resources and expertise to provide a platform for refugees who have faced such challenges, to share their stories in a way that empowers and informs. This is a recurring focus in all of our events, the most recent one being "The Representation of Refugees In The Media in 2019".

That is why we are thrilled to announce our final 2019 exhibition, ‘Lives In Transit: Written Accounts and Artistic Expressions of Refugee Stories’. The exhibition, to be held at the Out of the Blue gallery between June 30th and July 6th, will showcase the stories of local refugees, captured by our Research Team, alongside artwork created by renowned local, national and international artists. We have also worked with animators from across the UK to bring these stories to life. By immersing people in the words, experiences and feelings of refugees in Scotland, we hope to provide an insight into the journeys of refugees and eliminate misconceptions that are commonly spread in the media.

Our artists were reached out to by our Arts and Events Team throughout the year and work using a variety of different mediums, each bringing their own perspectives on the experiences of refugees. Among them is Khaled Dawwa, a Syrian sculptor and refugee currently living in Paris. His work is outwardly political, using sculpture to convey the impact of oppression and conflict on the lives of people in Arab society. His work will be complemented by photographs by Eva Leitolf. In the photos that she will be exhibiting, she examines the ways Europe, and specifically the European Union, deals with its external borders and the associated internal conflicts, by bringing together images of places with carefully researched texts about past migration-related events at those places. Excitingly, HIER & JETZT: Connections, a Berlin based exchange and residency program for artists in exile, have also agreed to send us a number of graphic prints to display, featuring thought-provoking messages in a variety of languages. This provides merely a small glimpse of the range of art we will have on offer and we have many more collaborations that we are excited to announce in the coming weeks.

Crucially, all artwork on display will be available for auction and proceeds will be split between COLOURS, our artists and our partner organisations, currently Bikes for Refugees and The Welcoming. Bikes for Refugees upcycles donated bikes and gives them to refugees to assist with their integration into Scottish society. The Welcoming provides frontline assistance to newly arrived refugees, including the provision of sanitary packs, clothes and basic advice upon arrival. Funds collected by COLOURS will be put back into our operation, helping us to expand and continue to uplift the voices of refugees in Scotland, voices that desperately need to be heard.

We hope, having read this, that you will come and support our endeavour and stand in solidarity with refugees across Scotland and around the world. The fight for global justice is arduous but with support from the public, change at home can make a lasting difference.

Entrance to the event is free and donations are accepted both online and at the door. Tickets for the opening night taking place on Sunday 30th of June, 6pm to 9pm, are available online via the Facebook event page and Eventbrite page.

Last year we had the pleasure of featuring the Syrian artist Nihad Al Turk, a previous artist-in-residence at the Leith School of Art. When we interviewed him last year he said, "We came from a country where there is war. Every refugee who is outside their country because of war is constantly worried and stressed, with their minds not fully there".

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