How do you capture someone's spirit? The spirit of a community? Of a culture, a country?
These are just some of the questions that the six photographers who have contributed to this exhibition – all of whom come from refugee backgrounds – have been grappling with in the course of Scottish Refugee Council's Spirit photography project produced in partnership with Street Level Photoworks. The project was born from a desire to tell stories about the refugee experience from the people best qualified to do so – refugees themselves.
It is estimated that there are around 10,000 refugees living in Scotland mostly concentrated around Glasgow. They come from countries as diverse as Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, China and Sri Lanka fleeing war, persecution and torture. Their stories are almost always remarkable but their voices are often not heard as loudly as they should.
Over the course of three months, the group worked with Street Level to create an exhibition for Refugee Week Scotland, which this year takes 'Spirit' as its theme, spending time photographing refugees and their communities across Glasgow. Here they found Spirit in all its guises.
The exhibition, and accompanying website, aim to celebrate refugees and their contribution in a multi-cultural Scotland. The work is displayed in 3 categories that follow the International Refugee week theme: The Spirit of Survival; The Spirit of Community and The Spirit of Scotland. The exhibition portrays a selection of the people we met and who generously engaged with the project, they represent a small reflection of a vibrant and diverse refugee community in Glasgow, who are contributing in many ways to enrich Scottish society and build a brighter future for everyone.
Some of people's thoughts on Spirit:
"Spirit is happiness"
"Spirit is missing something in my heart - my country"
"Spirit means something good"
"Spirit is people living together in different communities and helping each other."
"Spirit makes me feel better"
"Spirit helps you to build a new life here in Scotland."
"Spirit means soul, traditions and bringing communities together"
"Spirit is about having a brighter future"
Gullalaii Sumi Yousfzai
Mehrab Firouzi Moghadam
Workshop delivery: Iseult Timmermans, Street Level Photoworks.
Project support: Becky Duncan, Scottish Refugee Council.
Refugee Week Scotland: (18th - 24th June) is co-ordinated by Scottish Refugee Council. This week long festival involves over 100 events arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. Refugee Week Scotland 2012 runs from 18-24 June and is more far reaching than ever before with events from Orkney to the Borders. World Refugee Day takes place on Wednesday 20 June.
Scottish Refugee Council: As an independent charity we provide essential information and advice to refugees and those seeking asylum. We also campaign for political change, raise awareness about issues that affect refugees, and work closely with local communities and organisations.
Please support our work to help refugees all year round. Simply text RWS012 with your donation amount to 70070.