Letter Press Introduction

I was lucky to have had a chance to take part in a letterpress workshop at Spike Print Studios with the Letterpress Collective.

It really took me back to where I belong! In a Printshop, the smell of the inks, the sound of th rollers, aww it was wonderful! I’m hoping to join in another more in-depth session soon!

Here’s a sample of an Astrologers Song by Rudyard Kipling which I set.

Our Rough Island Story

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2016ORIS18For Booklet of findings click the link

The lost stories of St Werburghs

This current project was commissioned by the Comunity Centre in St Werburghs and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The centre has a First World War Memorial featured on the front of the building, of which they know very little about. The building was once a school so played an important role in the community.

In the light of the Centenary years of the First World War the Centre is keen to find the stories of the people who once made up the community.

I’ll be leading a team of Volunteers to supporting learning on how to research the names on the memorial and also finding out about the human stories, rather than just the stories of how  and where they died.

We will be involving local community groups as much as possible in thei project including the school.

To find out more please visit the Community Centre’s Website.

2016ORIS2Memorial at the Community Centre in St Werburghs installed in 1920.

2016oris5Team researching at the Bristol Records Office

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The Project has come a long way! The Volunteers have unearthed some excellent findings. We are begining to build a picture about the men, their lives, their families and the community of a Century ago. To find out more the team will be at various Community Events, lie the Arts Trail in St Werburghs do pop along to hear about their stories.

2016oris7Bristol Central Libray Introduction to their collection.

2016oris8Learning about a similar Project in St Pauls.

2016oris6Hearing about the Conscientious Objectors and anti war movement 100 years ago.

2016oris10Sharing our findings with neighbours and the research group.

2016oris14Harry Crates and his descendant.

2016oris11People were very interested in the maps that Dave Sheds Holden created for the project.

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2016oris13 Picnic in the Park 2016.

An important part of this project was to involve the pupils from the local Primary School. We gave a short presentation to the pupils about the memorial and the First World War. Then I helped the pupils to learn about the stories in the memorial through different art activities. We produced a book of pop up Illustrations and some banners with the soldiers names and lives. All the artwork was part of the Remembrance Service on 11th November 2016.

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2016ORIS22iThe Remembrance Service was such a success! Many of our neighbours and friends came to take part in something which the community hasn’t done for the past 80 years since the plaque was unvelied. People were so moved. 2016ORIS24 2016ORIS31

We were very lucky to have some brilliant musicians, Emmy Broughton on the harp. The audience were captured!

and Mark Stanley from the Fantasy Orchestra played us the Last post and a Reville.

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                               Roy Hackett and a Pupil from the School layed the wreath.

The Pupils sang a wonderful song called Dona Nobis Pacem which means bring us Peace.

2016ORIS30Derek Stanley wrote a poem based on the stories we have found about the men in the memorial, it was  adeeply moving reading!

Some comments from local people:

The Poet who performed at the Service will be visiting the school next year, he has given us a copy of the poem for the pupils to perform in the next assembly, they will each be able to recite the lines of the different soldiers.
The school would be privileged to lay the wreath again next year.
We look forward to working again soon!

We were so pleased that the pupils from the new school could help to remember these men, as they were alsopupils of the old school (now Community Centre) Such a lovely though, it was great for the children.

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A big hip hip hoorah  to the amazing work of all the volunteers and people whom helped and supported this wonderful and unique project, and another big thanks for the HLF for making this project possible.

Shared Spaces – Arts and Diologue Festival with Salam Shalom 2016

I was approached by Salam Shalom to show the work people made in Calais.

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The festival was a city wide with artists and speakers coming from all over the country and even some from abroad.

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The Exhibition in the Bristol Central Library focuses on the history of migration in the city of Bristol for both the Jewish and the Muslim communities.

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The curator asked for the work people made in The Calais Jungle to be a part of the exhibition.

I was pleased ot have kept my word with the folks in Calais I said I would show their work to people once I got home.

2016 SalShom5Thanks to those who left some really meaningful comments.

transcribed from above “Excellent exhibition, powerful images, I especially ‘enjoyed’reading the letters from jewish refugees and looking through the box supplied by Xeena – to hold in my hand the images drawn by refugees is very powerful.”

Illustrated Boards in North Somerset Rail Stations

 Similar to the Project from 2014 the Severnside Community Railway Partnership commissioned another set of five boards at the railway stations at Nailsea & Backwell, Yatton. Worle, Weston Milton and Weston super Mare. This Project involved the Community School in Worle providing the content and artwork and several local history groups providing the written content.

2015 Yatton 4

2015 Yatton 1Boards at Yatton

2015 Wor 3

2015 Wor 3Boards at Worle

2015 WsM 2Boards at Weston super Mare

2015 WMilBoards at Weston Milton

2015N&BBoard at Nailsea & Backwell

Trip to Sri Lanka travel journal

 

2016 SL ColomboWoman writing in an excercise book sat in a doorway. Colombo.

2016 SL TurpA huge and gloriously beautiful tree, by the bus station in Colombo. I was told it may be the Turpentine tree Syncarpia glomulifera.

2016 SL TreeDetails of different kinds of epiphytes growing in the forest.

2016 SL Green VineBeutiful green vine snake Ahaetulla nasuta found in the Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve

2016 SL Forest PoolQuick sketch of a river flowing under a huge boulder and rocks forming a small pool. A story accompanies this place. “A princess went to bathe here and emerged a beautiful woman after having bathed in the pool.”

2016 SL MonksMonks bathing in he river. Waving and laughing at us as we pass over the bridge looking down.

20016 SL FishRoad side Fish monger. Weilding a hugely sharp scimitar. Always cuts off the lips first, then the fins, then the innards. Swiftly and elegantly done. His chopping board is a huge  piece of dark hardwood, no doubt from the forests behind him.

2016 SL MalawagamaScene from our window in Kithulgala. looking out upon the Matugama rainforest and the The Kelani River (Sinhalese: කැළණි ගඟ) which flows all the way to Colombo. Kithulgala had many dramatic thunderstorms in the evenings, we would see the clouds gather, the lightning and thunder would follow.

2016 SL The FerrymanOur Ferryman who would take us and all the many people neding to cross the river all day long. His oar you can see was crafted by his very hand, it was also crafted from a dark hardwood from the forest. A wonderful job, to be out on the water in such a beautiful place, yet still a strenuous and hard job in the heat and humidity.

2016 SL HattonA day out in Hatton, waiting to catch our first train ride.

2016 SL MatchboxA charming little lion on the back of a match box.

Calais Refugee Camp or ‘The Jungle’

My background is from Ancient Persia and my parents migrated to Britain in the 1970s. As a result I feel deeply privileged to have been brought up here.

My parents were from British Crown colony of Aden in Yemen, until the British forces lost the stronghold of this port town in 1967. My Grandfather was a voluntary police officer under the Brits, he was caught in an attack and was fataly wounded.  As a result our family fled this conflict stricken area for a more peaceful existence. Dominantly our family moved to countries within the Commonwealth, as they were British Citizens brough up and educated under the British Empire. The struggles in Yemen persist to this day.

Because of my background I was inspired to offer help in whatever capacity I could. My Housemate and I went to volunteer. As a community Artist, I took some basic arts materials with me in the hope to bring back some stories and Artwork from the people in the Camp.

I stayed within a Sudanese camp area with a group called Calais Migrant Solidarity, who have been supporting the people of the camp for several years.

Here is a little snippet of the work people made and my experience of being there.

The Drawings people made in Calais also feature in an Exhibition in Bristol Centreal Library. You can read more by following this link.

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Distribution QueSamir and his small team of volunteers at one of the distribution points. Serving the “Line” for people to collect clothes, tents and shoes.

Ethiopia EskieEskie stands in so many “Lines” all day that he forever sees peoples backs. Quite poignantly put I thought. People who need to will que for one hot meal per day and they have to que for essential items like shoes, jumpers and jackets. Some people were still wearing their sandles worn during their long journey from the other side of the earth.

Drawing whilst in the Que

Sudan Emmy 2I have to say I did find it somewhat worrying that people were depicting the trains and were quite positive about how they would traverse the Eurotunnel, this is a deeply dangerous and treacherous route. But one that many were risking their lives with. As I spoke to more people I came to realise that for many, the dangers they had left behind them were more arduous in comparison to this seeemingly short journey ahead.

Fardin was deeply upset when he told me about his picture. His English was modest however his image speaks for him. A depiction of the French Police administering CS gas into the Camp area, this incident happened the day before I arrived. Fardin said that he fled a dictatorship in Iran and did not expect to be treated like this in the West.

Anon 1This image depicts a “bad situation in Calais” with people queing in “Line” to get food.

AlmanSimilar to above this rendition shows people in a lorry. It is well known that many people have lost their lives trying to cross the border in this manner. People are truly in a desperate situation to make attempts like this!

 

2015-11-05 14.23.44 Daniar from Iraq

Iraq Daniar

Afghanistan Ali backMany people were keen to have their portraits done. Although this is not my speciality I did my best to oblige.

Afghanistan AliI also asked people to try to render my portrait in return. Many declined but some took on the challenge. My friend Ali from Afghanistan did very well. He was also keen to show me photos of his daughter, I could tell in his eyes that he missed her deeply. A very noble and kind man.

Lots of people wanted their portraits done

Having been to the Banksy’s Bemusement park Dismaland in Weston Super Mare, I must say that I found it somewhat surreal to see many people who had been donated the hoodies from the show. The heavy grey skies, the rain, the engulfing muds and the eerie winds brought a certain sense of the ‘dismal’ to the place.

Ahmed

Anon 3

Iran Reza

Solomon

Yontam

Iran HusseinHussein from Iran took some paper away with him. Luckily he managed to find me the day I was leaving. He gave me this image.  I was really chuffed that he wanted to take some time to finish off is image. I need to get the writing translated. Sadly I can’t read nor speak any Arabic. I did notice that many of the people in the camp were confident speakers of English. Only a seldom few people whom I encountered in my short visit, couldn’t communicate in English.

2015-11-05 12.15.53I was so privileged to have been invited to lunch by my neighbours. We had sardine Asida which is an arab-style, extra-large, dumpling which is eaten with the hands in a communal style.

2015-11-05 12.15.35It can be eaten sweet or savory and can be made with a variety of flours. You tear off pieces of the dumpling and soak up the wonderful sauce. It was very filling and very wholesome in the cold camp.

2015-11-05 12.15.43To be honest I had to hold back my emotions. The generosity of the human spirit is such that, people with nothing will share everything they have, even if it is very little. I did not go hungry at any point in the camp, I was offered multiple teas, coffees and meals. I was really touched by all these wonderful gestures.

2015-11-04 16.14.46On the second day I went to go visit the Good Chance Theatre which is situated in a biodesic domed tent. It is an ongoing project to deliver theatre, but seems to mean much more to people than just that. A community hub, a theatre, a venue, a music hall, a safe and peaceful space to express yourself and to share in different cultures. 2015-11-04 16.15.41

2015-11-05 19.33.15A drawing session in the theatre, where myself and a wooden board would suffice as a table and a friend from Iran sat beside me would make an an excellent angle-poise lamp.

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Hossam a young Egyptian boy seemed to be full of energy and mischief running amok on the stage of the theatre whilst people were performing. Seeing an ample opportunity for an impromptu drawing workshop, I took him aside and we played a game, he would draw a squiggle and I would turn it into a picture he was transfixed. We came up with some fun results. Here are my favourites.

Hossam 3

Hossam 2I see a dragon and he sees people jumping into (or out of) it’s mouth. Good fun.

Hossam 1I see a picnic table and he sees a van.

MussabMore drawings whilst people stand in the ‘Line’. Whenever some on tries to cut in out of turn all the people start to chant “Line! Line! Line! Line!” until that person takes their place at the end of the Que.

Kurdistan KartI noticed some very distinct styles of patterns and flower motif from the Kurdish community.

Iran Ratyes 2

Iran Kareh M

 

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On the first evening I bumped into a boy from Afghanistan, we were chatting and he was trying to convince me that he was older than he seemed. Anyway, we were talking about cricket and the next thing you know he runs off to get a foam cricket bat and ball. A few other people joined in around us incuding the man above, he’s a mean fast bowler! He gave me some tips on my bowling technique. The night was very warm and the sand on the ground was dry. Not what I expected on the first evening. Ali the (above) is a buisiness owner, he runs a cafe in the Jungle. He is a Physics teacher from Pakistan. I told him about my project and he was very keen to draw a picture of his business.

Pakistan Ali

2015-11-05 20.47.21A very well run shop. Assam here works in the shop and keeps a Bengali tiger to ensure his safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heritage Map project with communities in Bath, Oldfield Park and Keynsham.

In 2014  I was commissioned by the Severnside Community Rail Partnership C.I.C to design a project to create artwork with local community groups from the areas around Bath, Oldfield Park and Keynsham.  Their works would feature in a History Map at the local railway stations.

With the assistance of a Mosaic Artist Tanja Helmhold, Storyteller Michael Loader and myself, we delivered a series of workshops to bring out people’s creative talents. The groups who took part were Action Against Hearing Loss, Teenage Rampage, Time Out youth project, Bath Area Play Project, Time 2 Share and First Steps Day Nursery. Everyone who took part had a piece of work which featured in the History Map.

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2014 toddlers 4Toddlers and Parents from First Steps Day Nursery working with Xeena

2014 YP 1

2014 YP 2Young People fromTime Out working with Xeena

2014 TH 3Tanja Helmhold working with Action Against Hearing Loss

2014 ML 1

2014 ML 2Michael Loader working with Teenage Rampage.

As a final hurrah to unveil the Artwork we took the groups out for a trip on the trains for everyone to have a chance to see their work installed in the Railway stations. There was a lovely lunch to bring all those who had assisted in the project together. Including the local historians and groups who had kindly given their historical content and memories to make the History Map.

2014 Teenage Rampage

2014 Bath 4

2014 Lunch 1         2014 OLF 6

2014 OLF 4        2014 Keynsham History group 2