From Syria With Love – Art Exhibition

A few days ago I had the privilege of seeing From Syria With Love’s touring art exhibition.

All of the artwork in it was done by Syrian children in refugee camps in Lebannon and, as you might expect, it was a deeply moving experience.

When we arrived in the small exhibition space off Magdalen Street in Norwich, my friend and I were just in time to see the screening of a short documentary about the children living in the refugee camps. Whilst rough and ready, it was one of those rare pieces of footage which can put an entire room on pause. In this small room in Norwich, a truth which I have known for a long time but not wanted to think about too hard was held up to my face.

It is one thing to know that there are millions of Syrian refugees but it’s another to listen to them articulately describe that which for us is unimaginable.

After the film, I looked around the exhibition. It’s small and unpolished, but to present it in any other way would have been disingenuous to what it was trying to convey.

All of the artwork is by children but much of it depicts things no child, no person, should have to see. The ones which have stayed with me afterwards include a depiction of the bombing of a hospital and another showed ‘War’ arriving at Syria’s door after leaving a trail of blood through Iraq and Afghanistan.

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All of the money raised by From Syria With Love goes towards helping Syrian children in refugee camps, helping them get access to an education and to emergency support. They have no managerial costs and provide a breakdown of how they spend every pound of their money on their website.

Afterwards, my friend and I walked away, deeply affected but unsure as to what we can do to help. It’s still a question I am asking myself, but I do know that if this exhibition comes to a venue near you then you must make the time to see it.

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There is no greater cure for compassion fatigue than to hear of the horrific experiences of Syrian refugees in their own words and images.

You can find out more about From Syria With Love at their website.

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‘Looking Beyond: Conversations between John Berger and John Christie’

It’s been a busy few weeks indeed!

Second year is officially over, all essays are handed in and formal teaching has stopped until the autumn… and yet there is no rest for the wicked.

As the new President of the Drama Society, there is an awful lot to organise – the final show of the year, our end of year party, and the selection of the first show of next year! But with persistence it is all slowly coming together.

Even with all this going on there is still time, now that essays are over, to enjoy the UEA campus. It’s never more wonderful to be a UEA student than when the sun is out and you can sit with your friends down by the lake.

I’ve also taken the opportunity to get to know the Sainsbury’s Art Centre a little better as well.

Currently, there is an exhibition curated by the MA Museum Studies students called, ‘Looking Beyond: Conversations between John Berger and John Christie’. A friend and I stopped by one sunny afternoon, knowing nothing about either of the aforementioned Johns, and spent a wonderful hour reading and poking around.

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It is a curious exhibition because it is so site specific. John Berger, the novelist, painter, poet and Booker Prize winner, and his friend, the artist John Christie, both visited the Sainsbury Art Centre together and it is mentioned in the beginning of the book they penned together, ‘Lapwing and Fox’.

It was this book which sparked the idea for the exhibition, encouraging as it does visitors to try and look at the galleries in new ways.

The whole exhibition is built from this ethos and as a visitor you are made to feel that your interpretation of the art is just as important as what the artist or the gallery curator wanted you to take from it. Some of the gallery is taken up by the works of Berger and Christie, but interspersed with them are works from the museum’s permanent collection – often pieces that Berger or Christie mention in their correspondence.

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The exhibition is fairly small but I would highly encourage people to give it a visit, especially if they are someone who has been to the centre before as this collection offers so many interesting thoughts and ideas on what else is there. Because of this, although the display is small in comparison to the permanent collection, its influence can be felt throughout the building, no matter which piece of art you may be looking at.

‘Looking Beyond: Conversations between John Berger and John Christie’, is on until the 27th November, so you have plenty of time, but I would encourage you to go when it is sunny so you can truly appreciate both the UEA campus and the Sainsbury Centre’s fantastic setting and views of the broads.

More info may be found here (x)

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The Week I Finally Went to the Sainsbury Visual Arts Centre…

Finding a free moment as we approach the end of term is difficult, but occasionally it is worth setting aside your towering pile of work in favour of UEA’s own brand of extra-curricular activities.

Last week I finally went to an exhibition held at the Sainsbury Visual Arts Centre, something I have been meaning to do since the end of Freshers’ week last year. Their current exhibition is of the works of Alphonse Mucha, a Czech artist I remember doing a school project on in year five. Luckily I still enjoy his art and at only £3 it was very friendly to an end of term student budget.

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For what is a fairly tucked away art gallery and museum, the Sainsbury Visual Arts Centre is regularly home to an impressive range of artists and their work. Earlier this year they played host to a series of sculptures by Henri Matisse (It is also famous for being the home of the Avengers in the latest Marvel films).

I enjoyed looking around the exhibition, particularly the posters Mucha created for the then famous actress Sarah Bernhardt, and I’ll be keeping an eye out to see what is being put on in the future. Whilst I’d recommend students to go and have a look anyway, it’s also the perfect sort of thing to take your parents to when they visit.

My other bit of culture last week was a talk at the cathedral given by UEA’s own Dr Rebecca Pinner. Dr. Pinner is one of the lecturers on my Medieval Literature module so Sam, one of my housemates who also happens to take the module, and myself decided to go along even though St. Edmund (the topic of the talk) predates any of the texts we are studying by quite a long way.

The event itself was held in the cathedral’s library (which now I know is open to the public I may go and explore some time) and it was amazing to see how many people turned up. The talk itself was on the topic of the imagery of St. Edmund around East Anglia – St. Edmund being a very local saint- and happened to coincide with his feast day. It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea but I really enjoyed it and I’m sure that I’ll bore any friend or relative with it who happens to be in the cathedral with me next time I’m there.

These particular events might not be to everyone’s taste, but they’re just a tiny sample of the kind of events and opportunities that you can find in Norwich. If nothing else, it’s good to do something extracurricular which isn’t the LCR…