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'Sand & Vision' Exhibition Launch

‘Sand & Vision’ Exhibition Launch

Stash Gallery, Vout O’Reenees, The Crypt, London E1

“How do you photograph freedom?”

(© Mohamed Mouloud Emhamed / Olive Branch Arts)

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a partially recognised state that controls a thin strip of area in the Western Sahara. Morocco controls and administers the disputed territory. The Sahrawi Republic maintains diplomatic relations with 40 UN states, and is a full member of the African Union.

(© Emma Brown)

Olive Branch Arts offer a broad range of art-based experiences and training programmes and have been creatively engaging with the Sahrawi refugee community since 2012.

(© Tumana Buzaid Mohamed Salem / Olive Branch Arts)

Last October, creative director Becky Finlay Hall and associate artist Emma Brown returned to the Sahrawi refugee camps in SW Algeria to run a participatory photography training programme - empowering the people themselves to take their own images through workshops and mentoring - under the title ‘How do you photograph freedom?’

(© Tumana Buzaid Mohamed Salem / Olive Branch Arts)

This ‘Sand & Vision’ Exhibition is one of the results. Stunning images from award-winning Emma Brown (her photograph of of two Sahrawi women recently won the UN World Food Programme ‘Food for Life’ Category at the Food Photographer of the Year Awards 2017) hang alongside photographs taken by some of the Sahrawi refugees.

(© Emma Brown)

The pictures have an emotive balance between the bleakness of a sun-drench terrain with the warmth and familiarity of home. These are normal, happy people in a tough and dry environment. The subjects reach out and feel so close and neighbourly, expressing exactly the same emotions as we do, proving the point although they live far away from us, with just the one click of a camera, they are just the same as us.

Searching for a more long-term home, the exhibition aims to highlight the story of this African region and its people, as well as bringing their plight to an international audience.

As well as the exhibition, there was music from Matt King Smith and special performances from Sahrawi Hip Hop artist Yslem Hijo Del Desierto. Plus, there were poetry performances from Sam Berkson as he launches a new print of Settled Wanderers published by Influx Press - a collection of original works alongside interpreted poems from some of the greatest poets of the Western Sahara.

Organiser: Olive Branch Arts


Twitter: @OliveBranchArts

Emma Brown’s stunning photography book Sahrawi Spirit - People, Proverbs and Poems of the Sahrawi is available from the Olive Branch website.

(Image © Emma Brown)

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