I have learnt from working with refugees and asylum seekers this year that hope is one of the most important parts of our inner-selves and to life in general, but one of the hardest to keep hold of in challenging times. Especially hope for a future. So I now have even more respect for Future Hope's ethos and ability to continue to go from strength to strength no matter what is thrown their way.
It was great to reconnect with old friends from Future Hope this October and hear all that they are working hard to achieve for the over two hundred children and young people connected to Future Hope, either n their school, children's home, or extended family of old Future Hope boys and girls now setting up a future for themselves.
I have donated a piece of work inspired by my time with Future Hope and in Kolkata 'Hooglie River, Kolkata'.
In my first trip in 2006 I co-led the British Council “Rivers” project for a group of some of the Future Hope children. They enjoyed a trip along the Hooglie by boat recording what they saw and thinking about life on the banks of the river. The work produced by Future Hope was shared at the River Thames in the Thames River project (Sept. 2006). During my research I met with local artist Bal Raj Panesar who introduced me to the work of a local village girl called Shakila who was creating beautiful collage work out of recycled materials. So my own visual art practice exploring collage began!
Although ‘The Hooglie River’ is one of my only more realistic pieces of work in capturing a scene I continue to explore collage in my practice. It felt like a brilliant way to bring lots of different and intriguing characters and scenes together; to capture the hustle and bustle of activity down by the river and in the streets of Kolkata. And capture the play on all of our senses that India induces!
Working with refugees and asylum seekers, finding a place to belong; a home "not only the place but the cluster of feelings [and identities] that are associated with it" (Papadopulos, 2002) is at the centre of my most recent artwork. I play with the objects, people, places and symbols that we relate to and those others that feel strange and less familiar to us; selecting, rescuing; nurturing; deconstructing, reconstructing - drawing upon our quest for a space to consolidate, mend and grow as individuals.