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New art exhibition reveals personal perspective on Syrian conflict

A new multimedia exhibition, opening at the Herbert Read Gallery on our Canterbury campus, will reveal a personal insight into the current conflict in Syria. From Rochester with Love: Conversations in the Midst of the Syrian Conflict functions as a counterpoint to the mainstream media reporting on the ongoing war in Syria by focusing on the intimate communications between the artist and her family back in Damascus.

Syrian artist Hala Georges, who arrived in the UK five years ago and currently lectures in Visual Communication Design at our Canterbury campus, has produced a series of films, animations, audio pieces, and an installation inspired by the testimonies and screen-based conversations with her friends and relatives. Visitors to the exhibition, which is dedicated to the artist’s late father, will encounter the hidden stories of those anonymous citizens affected by the conflict.

The exhibition includes 15 short videos, a series of wall illustrations combined with Arabic calligraphy, and an installation recreating an abandoned domestic interior. All of these works have been created in response to the experiences of the artist and participants over the last four years.

Artist Hala Georges explains: “The Syrian war started in March 2011 and since then my dream of returning home has slowly faded. The project is a piece of my heart made real by means of practice and it is the way for me to be part of my family’s and country’s grief. I dedicate this exhibition to the memory of my father.”

Examples of the videos on display include Skype Call with Mom, a 55-second animation with the war as a soundtrack; From Rochester with Love, a video contrasting the artist’s present UK home and surroundings with her home city of Damascus; and Suha, which captures segments of a telephone conversation with the artist’s eldest sister.

Collecting material from Syria whilst being in the UK depended on weak and disrupted internet connection and phone calls. These difficult circumstances produced fragmented testimonies which illustrate the problems and realities of communication in the midst of the conflict.

You can visit the exhibition for free at the Herbert Read Gallery on our Canterbury campus from 19 February to 18 March. Find out more about the gallery here.