Portraits of Welcome: Londoners Reflect on ‘Our Shared Future’ for Refugee Week

Posted: 
06/27/17
Themes: 
Diversity and Integration

United Kingdom – The UN Migration Agency (IOM) explored the theme of “Our Shared Future” through two art projects – Portraits of Welcome and Building Tomorrow Together – as part of the 2017 Refugee Week celebrations in the United Kingdom (UK) at the Southbank Centre in London, on 24 June 2017.

IOM UK ran the second edition of it participatory arts project creating visual messages, Portraits of Welcome, by inviting members of the public to reflect on what the future may hold for our shared community. Photographer Marcia Chandra captured engaging portraits to put public faces to their thoughts for the future. Portraits and accompanying quotes were printed on the spot for participants to take away with them, and to add to a growing exhibition for the public.

“We are all wired for connection,” said Dipti Pardeshi, IOM UK Chief of Mission, when reflecting on Our Shared Future. “A shared future is a connected one. One where we value diversity as an important ingredient in a recipe that, when mixed well, makes our society richer and more satisfying.”

To further illustrate the theme of Our Shared Future, IOM UK also displayed an art installation in the shape of a tree, with materials produced by children in Lebanon and the UK, as part of the Building Tomorrow Together project.

Children from Globe Primary School, Bethnal Green, held the first UK workshop for the project in tandem with Syrian refugee children in Beirut, who were participating in an IOM Cultural Orientation session before they were relocated to the UK. All the children were encouraged to think about their identity and what a positive shared future could look like. Working thousands of miles apart, both UK and Syrian children created an inspiring collaborative tree installation, with their thoughts and messages appearing as leaves sprouting from the tree, which will continue to grow as more children in Beirut and London contribute their messages, ideas and thoughts.

“I hope to live in a house and go to school, with a playground where I can play in. I hope I can study to become a doctor, but if I can’t, I would like to be a princess,” said Lana, eight years old, at the Lebanon workshop.

For further information, please contact Christopher Gaul at IOM UK, Tel: +44 207 811 60, Email: cgaul@iom.int

  • Photo: © Marcia Chandra

  • Photo: © Marcia Chandra

  • Photo: © Marcia Chandra

  • Photo: © Marcia Chandra