May 26, 2020
About 5 weeks ago the curator and British Red Cross Merseyside (BRCM) volunteer Adi Lerer started an online zoom art class for refugees and asylum seekers living in Liverpool, together with BRCM. We call it ‘Collecting Cultures’; each week we virtually visit a different gallery/museum in Liverpool, look at the collection and focus on specific artworks or objects. Since the lockdown it was important to find ways to bring people together to take our minds away from the stresses of the everyday new reality. To think of what the city has to offer, find those cultural influences and connections through art.
Last week we visited the Open Eye Gallery and stepped into the VR — WAKE UP TOGETHER (REN HANG & WHERE LOVE IS ILLEGAL) exhibition. It was a tremendous experience. Not only did the VR give the group an opportunity to see the gallery from within, we also examined the topics that are touched on in the exhibition. Each week the group receives some homework related to the visit. This time we looked at the LGBTQ+ flag, its origin and symbolism. Each member of the group chose a colour and had to find different objects or drawings that represent their chosen colour. They would work on the composition; take a photo and we would share our work the following week. Here is what we achieved, using whatever we found at home and using our mobile phone cameras.
The group is very excited to share their work with the Open Eye Gallery and the people of Liverpool.
If you are a refugee or an asylum seeker and would like to join our class please email firstname.lastname@example.org. No previous experience is required.
In the texts below, the photographers explain their thinking behind the picture. The contributors prefer to remain anonymous.
Green & Blue
“I just tried to use the simplest things that were available. First, I took a picture of the branch in the pot and then I looked up and played with that tall branch and then I saw a face in it and I continued to play with my mind. I used green in portrait painting. I used colour tonality to create the right contrast, so I used a black and white photo to evaluate my work.
I thought I needed something else to give my blue more power. And I thought in white, and I thought I needed two factors; colours that are effective and colours that dominate.”
“Looking at the LGBTQ+ flag, I chose my favourite colour which is red. I was trying different ways of placing the objects. But it is not a representation of me. The tin is Mackerels in tomato sauce, and on the bottom left is a pack of soaps I use. The tie; my partner invited me to join the Christmas party at her workplace and I asked her what is the dress code. I thought I should at least wear a tie. The British flag on the mug, is because I’m part of the commonwealth countries.”
“The statue in the middle is the leader, he is very powerful and the other characters are safe around him in the time of isolation. Yellow is my favourite colour, it’s how I choose to show myself.”
Bed, beach, brown, breathe
In my dream I’m by the sea
On the beach
When I see and touch the shells
I can smell the salty water
I can hear the waves
It makes me smile
I take a breath
Maybe the expression on the dog’s face