'The Place I Call Home' By The British Council Celebrates Diversity In The Gulf And UK

BY Ayesha Sohail Shehmir Shaikh / Sep 15 2019 / 09:47 AM

The exhibition uses contemporary photography to explore the idea of home related to the experiences of young people living in the Gulf and the UK at a time of rapid change

'The Place I Call Home' By The British Council Celebrates Diversity In The Gulf And UK
Qasr Al Salam © Mohammed Al-Kouh

Drawing on the bustling and ever-changing lifestyles of millennials living in the Gulf and the UK, The Place I Call Home depicts the transition into a home abroad, sparking interaction between the two cultures and exploring ideas of belonging and foreignness. Presented by The British Council and curated by Director of UK-based Ffotogallery, David Drake, the exhibition showcases the evocative photographic works of 12 budding artists who have lived in the Gulf and the UK. These include Arab artists living in the UK and vice versa. With the underlying theme of 'home', the contemporary works explore culture, heritage and identities, challenging prevailing stereotypes. 

“Several artists take a poetic or conceptual approach rather than their work being purely documentary, exploring in various ways the three interweaving themes of the exhibition – placemaking, interculturalism and citizenship,” shares Drake. “How modern living, increased prosperity and technological advances are balanced against ensuring social cohesion, or environmental and heritage concerns, is a thread running through several of the artist projects featured in The Place I Call Home.”

XO © Josh Adam Jones

The exhibition is part of a Gulf-wide initiative that launched in 2018 by The British Council, aiming to establish interactive programmes which serve as a platform for young people to unite and celebrate diversity. “In a region like the Gulf with so many ‘global’ and transient citizens the theme speaks to our collective community and experience,” says Drake. “The speed of change in the Gulf has created a unique perspective and experience that transcends borders. The exhibition will explore this process of change and its impact on people. I hope it will stimulate interesting questions and conversations on home as a concept and not just a physical place.”

Kuwait-based, self-taught photographer Mohammed Al Kouh has been commissioned to create new works which reinterpret memories of moving back to his birthplace following an invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Other artists include Glasgow-based artist Ben Soedira, who navigates political and social issues surrounding the notion of home in his work entitled Foreign Sands.

Mysteries on the Horizon © Abi Green

“First and foremost, I hope the exhibition encourages young people in the Gulf and UK to appreciate the strong and rich cultural history and identity that informs the contemporary Arab World, as well as the opportunities afforded by global connectivity and increased mobility,” says Drake. “I want to inspire young people to look outside their immediate environment and, through the exhibition and its outreach and engagement activities, encourage them to pick up a camera and use photography as their tool so they can share their own stories and experiences.”

Other featured artists will include Richard Allenby-Pratt, Mai Almoataz, Eman Ali, Abi Green, Gillian Robertson, Josh Adam Jones, Ammar Al Attar, Moath Alofi, Hussain Almosawi and Mariam Alarab. 

The Place I Call Home will tour across the GCC and the UK between September 2019 and March 2020 and will also comprise a public outreach programme, open to all.