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A unique travelling exhibition boasting contemporary photographs and film, focused on what home means to young people living in the Gulf and UK, will be opening its doors today to art lovers and shutterbugs in the kingdom.
The Place I Call Home exhibition, which is being presented by The British Council at the Bahrain Museum Art Centre until the end of the month, features the work of 14 artists and photographers, each providing a different response to the theme.
The showcase, which is meant to travel across seven countries in six months, has already exhibited in Derby and Cardiff in UK as well as Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
It is being curated by David Drake, the director of Ffotogallery which is the national photography agency of Wales. He was commissioned by The British Council in January 2018 to develop a photography exhibition that reflected the lives and experiences of Arab and British residents in the UK and the GCC.
He said: “I chose the theme The Place I Call Home as I wanted the audience to think about what home means for them at a time when more and young people spend part of their lives living, working or studying abroad. After several scoping visits to the GCC in 2019, the theme was developed and an open call for artists was launched.
“The speed of change in the Gulf has created new perspectives that are sometimes highly local and specific, but also transcend borders. The Place I Call Home explores this process of change and its impact on people. It prompts questions and conversations on ‘home’ as a concept and not just a physical place.
“Through the exhibition, workshops and talks, I want to capture and make sense of these societal shifts in order to build understanding around the strong and rich cultural history that informs the identity of the contemporary Arab World.
“The exhibition is touring to all six GCC countries (Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE) and four cities in the UK (Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh and London), and has an accompanying public programme which works on both physical and online platforms.”
Whilst working on the project for the past two years, David learned a great deal about the cultural richness and diversity of the Gulf and the Arab presence in the UK. He stated that he had positive experiences working with artists, students, cultural institutions and partners in all seven countries.
“I’m also proud to have shed light on the Gulf region and its historical and contemporary relationship to the UK, going beyond stereotyped images and the narrow representation of life in the Gulf that Western media so often projects,” he explained. “It has been an enriching experience for everybody involved, and I hope that comes through in the exhibition.”
Alongside the exhibition, the programme will also include a panel talk and presentation tomorrow at 7pm, a photo walk for school children on Sunday and a portfolio review and career progression talk on Monday at 6:30pm.
Richard Rooze, director of The British Council Bahrain is delighted with providing the exhibition to enthusiasts in the kingdom.
He said: “The exhibition showcases how art is a vehicle for cross-cultural relativity and creativity, bringing together photographers and visitors across the Gulf and UK to examine the sense of place-making.
“It is the aim of British Council’s cultural work in Bahrain to explore the connections and understanding between the people in the UK and Bahrain. I therefore would warmly welcome all to visit this exhibition to go on this exploration.”
Bahraini documentary photography duo, Hussain Almosawi and Mariam Alarab, are exhibiting their photo series of Bahraini immigrants finding ‘home’ in England, alongside other selected artists reflecting the sense of home from photography shot in the UK and other Gulf countries.
The exhibition, which is free to the public, will open tonight at 7pm and then from 8am until 8pm every day after that until January 31. Schools interested in the interactive photo walk can email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
There is a photo walk for children aged 10- to 12 from 9am to noon and for teens aged 15 and 16 from 2pm to 5pm.