A New Beginning

Today opens in London A New Beginning, photo exhibition curated by Rebecca McClelland and Breaking Barriers, a charity working to ensure employment and sustainable living conditions for refugees in the UK.

Ten portraits, ten stories. Ten people with their life experience behind them, each one different and told in first person. A New Beginning celebrates the power of photography, its ability to give a different and conscious image, but above all highlights the stories of those who, for one reason or another, had to break with the past and build their whole life anew, far from their roots. Stories that perhaps we partly already know, but we rarely see close-up faces of those who have lived them. For this reason, Breaking Barriers commissioned portraits to eleven photographers based in UK, challenging them to go against the negative and stereotypical representation of refugees: between documentary style and fashion photography, each of the images responds to the challenge and presents an alternative way of thinking about individual stories. Each picture corresponds to a name and a story. The interviews, conducted by Samira Shackle, a multi-award-winning journalist, were given to the photographers prior to the image-making process, in order to put them in contact with the personal background of the person they would portray.

Different ages, from various parts of the world, asylum seekers for various reasons: a Syrian family arriving in the United Kingdom with an official re-settlement program without speaking a word of English; a homosexual fleeing Egypt seeing personal freedom, a Yemeni human rights advocate displaced by war.

.. All of the individuals featured in the exhibition have been, or continue to be, supported by Breaking Barriers to find a job, in line with each individual’s experience and ambition

For these people portrayed in A New Beginning, finding an important job was fundamental for self-esteem, to feel fulfilled and to integrate within the community. But beyond the search for a job, those who have shared their story, so intimate and personal, represent the multitude and diversity of life experiences of refugees in Britain. Images and stories describe journeys and circumstances sometimes tragic and difficult to overcome, but they also show a surprising sense of resilience, hope and optimism that can emerge when creating human connections.

A New Beginning

Protein Studios, London From 4th to 7th October 2018

Opening: 3rd October 2018, 6pm

Exhibition curated by Rebecca McClellan and Breaking Barriers

Interviews by Samira Shackle

Portraits by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Nick Waplington, Caleb Femi, Campbell Addy, Diana Markosian, Jo Metson Scott, Léonie Hampton, Timur Celikdag, Leon Chew, Samin Ahmadzadeh.