‘A New Beginning’ Private View

Wednesday 3rd October marked the launch of our annual exhibition ‘A New Beginning’ which highlights the dreams and challenges faced by refugees in the UK and a celebration of friendship.


Co-curated by Rebecca McClelland and Breaking Barriers, the exhibition includes photographs by 11 renowned photographers: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin; Nick Waplington; Caleb Femi; Campbell Addy; Diana Markosian; Jo Metson Scott; Léonie  Hampton; Timur Celikdag; Leon Chew; and Samin Ahmadzadeh. Their portraits, which explore both documentary and fashion photography, reflect the refugees’ wildly diverging experiences in the UK. By challenging negative and pessimistic stereotypes often associated with the representation of refugees, these photographs offer an alternative way of thinking about each individual’s story. Continuing the theme of human connections, many of these photographers have themselves made a home in the UK, and they bring their own experiences to these creative and collaborative images.

Words by Samira Shackle.

Photographer Campbell Addy and Curator Rebecca McClelland |  Breaking Barriers A New Beginning Private View

“I was overwhelmed by the turnout at the private view of our annual exhibition on Wednesday night. The evening is not only an opportunity for us to approach the topic of refugees in a more human and positive manner, but for us to celebrate our collective achievements with everyone who has partnered with us on our exciting journey over the last 3 years.

A huge thanks go to the sponsors Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Western Union, IKEA and Mishcon de Reya for making the event a huge success. Thanks also to all of our other corporate partners, supporters and volunteers; we wouldn’t have got to where we are without you. We look forward to working with you over the coming years to support even more refugees living in London!”

Words by Matthew Powell

Matthew Powell CEO of Breaking Barriers speaking at A New Beginning private view.

“Wildly urging you all to go to this exhibition – last year’s was so powerful, moving and inspiring. Breaking Barriers are an incredible charity finding meaningful jobs with decent contracts for refugees here in London who need that break to rebuild shattered lives. Huge respect and thanks to those companies (Bank of America Merrill Lynch, IKEA, Mishcon de Reya and Western Union among others) who are recognising that refugees make stellar employees. This exhibition shows portraits of some of Breaking Barriers clients, photographed by amazing photographers. Do Come!”

Words by Juliet Stevenson (Breaking Barriers Ambassador)

Top Left: Matthew Powell (CEO) + Juliet Stevenson (Breaking Barriers’ Ambassador) Bottom Left: Juliet Stevenson + Beilqes (Breaking Barriers’ Client)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is focused on building pathways to economic mobility by addressing issues such as youth unemployment. The bank is Founding Partner of the BB Futures programme, a new initiative providing intensive employability support to young refugees living in London.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is proud to share this exhibition which includes support from the bank’s Multicultural Leadership Network (MLN). MLN brings together bank employees from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds to support each other, educate, empower and excel at work. The network has hosted employability skills sessions to encourage employees to share their skills with the young refugees.

Words by Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Top Left: Sajid F. Hussein (Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Breaking Barriers Trustee) Top Right + Bottom Left: Bank of America Merrill Lynch Team and Matthew Powell (CEO Breaking Barriers) Bottom Right: Ammar (BB Futures Client)

Through a series of portraits exploring both documentary and fashion photography; the studio and the street, each challenges negative and pessimistic stereotypes associated with the representation of refugees and offers an alternative way of thinking about their individual stories and cultures. Interviews conducted by multi award-winning journalist Samira Shackle will be paired with each portrait. Each artist received the interview prior to the image-making process. By pairing photographers and artists who made the UK their home with individuals engaged in a similar process, A New Beginning aims to break with a heavily defined representation of refugees and displacement through creative and collaborative images.

Mayada Elmaki (Breaking Barriers Client + Legal Administrator at Mischon de Reya) and Anthony Julius (Vice-Chairman, Mishcon de Reya)

“At first, everything felt so difficult – it was a new environment and the work wasn’t easy. I met Anthony Julius on the first day I came to Mishcon. He was so welcoming and nice. He said: “you’re welcome here”. After a few months, I felt I wasn’t moving forward and that in such a big firm, I would never be able to progress. I met with Anthony and told him that I didn’t know how to navigate the system, and was thinking of returning to the charity sector. He told me not to give up on my legal career. He said that refugees have got the resilience, and that I could make it. He arranged for me to have a mentor within the firm. My mentor has given me so much encouragement. Now I’m on the immigration team, and I have another mentor who is so supportive. This is an area of law I’d like to continue to work in. Anthony and my other colleagues at Mishcon know that people can learn if they just give them the right environment.”

Words by Mayada Elmaki

Top Left: Beilqes (Photographer Léonie Hampton) Bottom Right: Hege Sæbjørnsen – Country Sustainability Manager – IKEA Group

A New Beginning | Opening Hours

4th – 7th October – Protein Studios – Weekday 8.30am – 4.30pm | Weekend 11am – 6pm

Donate to Breaking Barriers to help refugees in London Text BBEX00£10 to 70070. 

Volunteer with Breaking Barriers and use your skills to help refugees into work.

Partner with Breaking Barriers and create sustainable solutions to refugee integration in the UK.

Photographer: Edith Whitehead | @probablyedith