Arts venue Rich Mix in East London concluded its Amal supported Photography and Philosophy workshops In Focus this January. Conducted under the challenging conditions of the pandemic, six weeks of workshops concluded with an exhibition entitled Exposure: Imprints in Time. Displayed in the windows of Rich Mix, along the busy Bethnal Green Road for all to see, the exhibition featured photographs taken by the women participants through workshops led by photographer Sarah Ainslie and facilitated by Global Learning London’s Liz Allum.
Amal supported Rich Mix to offer free photography skills workshops to a diverse mix of Muslim and non-Muslim women from the local community. The workshops were designed to bring people together by celebrating and embracing the different aspects of people’s everyday lives through sharing and listening to each other’s stories; while simultaneously being taught the skills to translate them into imagery. The workshops began with a taster session back in March 2020, but were then interrupted by the Covid19 crisis. In September they were reignited, designed with a hybrid approach of zoom sessions, home-based activities and in-person sessions. The participants came together to share their life experiences, debate issues and offer support to one another after the trying few months they had been through, all while learning a new skill.
The workshops became a network of support, building lasting relationships between women who would not ordinarily come together in their usual lives. They afforded the women an opportunity to interact with others through a collective creative practice that essentially, but not intentionally, became their therapeutic outlet.
“For me, it came at the right time, it was a welcome distraction, it got me to think about other people. It made me meet new people, it’s taught me different things, you do not have to be there in person to make new friends, it’s truly given me a different outlook on life”.
The women convened again in person at Rich Mix in November. We were there to witness their reunion and it exceeded our own expectations!
“Covid has really got its claws into our communities and our homes and our lives, so when something surprising and creative happens amidst that it’s far more precious because of it”
The women had spent months sharing personal memories and experiences and inviting people into their homes over Zoom. This sharing had created strong bonds between them and they were delighted to be together again after months of communicating over the phone or via Zoom. They brought in items from their homes and lives to take photos of and shared the memories invoked by these items; jewellery, wedding dresses, shoes, teapots and old photo albums.
“Although some of us are worlds apart we have something that brings us together…It just shows us how much we have in common and how we can relate…We found our own little group, family or friends or whatever you call it, I have learnt so much, from each and every one”
“The main thing is that I know I have been on a journey with everyone…we’ve all explored such intimate things together…and I’m really grateful to have met these wonderful people on the project as well”.
Thanks to all the artists that participated:
Formating Part of
Amal’s Legacy projects
This project was originally supported under the Amal Programme, a programme of the Saïd Foundation from 2018-2021. The Programme awarded grants in the UK in support of a rich diversity of arts projects and activities that helped to increase understanding of the UK’s Muslim communities among people of other faiths and none and to foster a stronger sense of belonging among its Muslim communities. For more about the Programme, see our Amal Programme Findings Report here
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