NEWS: Journey’s Drawn: Illustration from the Refugee Crisis @ Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: (c) David Foldvari & Save the Children – Boat

A hard-hitting but absolutely essential new exhibition comes to Sunderland’s Museum & Winter Gardens this month in the form of Journeys Drawn: Illustration from the Refugee Crisis, at the gallery from Saturday 20th July-Sunday 22nd September.

Coming to Sunderland from the celebrated London gallery House of Illustration, it’s the first UK exhibition to explore the refugee crisis through illustration, and features the work of 12 contemporary artists documenting refugee journeys both as artists working in-situ and as first-hand experiences.

The stories of some of the illustrators are just as amazing as their work; Iranian artist Majid Adin suffered through imprisonment in Iran for his political drawings, was smuggled to London in a refrigerator and in a remarkable turn of fortune ended up winning a competition to reimagine Elton John’s Rocket Man – with the animations included in this exhibition; Palestinian Syrian Mahmoud Salameh’s work was inspired by the 17 months he spent in an Australian detention centre; while graphic novelist Karrie Fransman’s animated ‘zoom comic’ is inspired by the journey of four Eritrean refugees and is accompanied by spoken word from songwriter and sound designer Lula Mebrahtu, herself an Eritrean refugee.

The exhibition also contains war zone reportage from George Butler’s experiences in Syria; the all-too familiar images of refugees arriving on European beaches in flimsy boats, photographed by Olivier Kugler; and a first-hand account of volunteering in the Calais jungle by graphic novelist Kate Evans.

Perhaps some of the most stark and affecting work comes from British Libyan Asia Alfasi’s manga cartoons depicting childhood experiences faced by refugees, and David Foldvari’s black and white illustrations of crowded boats and desperate people. 

Journeys Drawn is certainly not an easy exhibition to view, but it will offer an insight into an ongoing crisis that must never be ignored.

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