Create Syria


  “I want to make teenagers dream again”

   Raghad Makhlouf, Syrian actress

To coincide with International Peace Day on 21 September 2016, we are pleased to launch Create Syria: The future constellation – a multimedia installation exploring how the arts can help imagine and build a better future in the wake of the Syria crisis.

The exhibition, curated in the atmospheric tunnels of House of Vans, Waterloo, London (22 September- 2 October 2016) will showcase the stories and works of several exiled Syrian artists and cultural figures living in Lebanon and working in diverse art forms such as theatre, film, painting, animation and music.

The featured artists have all been running workshops for displaced Syrian children and young people in refugee camps and other communities across Lebanon, using art to promote self-expression and collaboration. Their message is that Syria is not just about destruction and crises, but also re-growth and creativity.

Create Syria curator Ying Hsuan Tai says:

“A constellation will link together each of the Syrian artists and their stories – symbolising their shared hopes and dreams for a future without violence.”

The artists include Karim Qabrawi, animator; Raghad Makhlouf, theatre and television actress; Ossama Halal, director of Koon Theatre; Hannibal Saad, music festival director; Abed al Aziz Aidy, film-maker; Hisham al Zouki – film director and writer; Barkev Taslakian, musician and choir conductor; and Mohamed Aloosh, painter.

Their works – including recordings of theatre performances, film, a sound installation, animations and photographs – will be showcased at the House of Vans exhibition space, which consists of a series of tunnels beneath Waterloo train station.

Karim, a Syrian animator, wants to help young Syrian refugees to develop shared experiences through cartoons. He says:

“Art presents the good and beautiful things in life, and encourages people to do the opposite of violence… It’s a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with the toxic context and the politics which is so complicated.”

For her part, Raghad, a Syrian theatre and soap actress, is using drama to help young refugees learn new skills and regain a sense of purpose:

“I want to make teenagers dream again”.

The exhibition was inspired by a project run by Alert in partnership with the British Council and the independent cultural organisation Ettijahat in Lebanon. It is curated by Ying Hsuan Tai of Goldsmiths, University of London.

Charlotte Onslow, who co-ordinates the Create Syria project at International Alert, says:

“We hope Create Syria will showcase the vibrant artistic scene alive among Syrian artists living in exile and highlight how creativity and expression is opening up space for wonder and calm in a time of crisis and the opportunity to imagine a future without violence.”

Exhibition details: Venue: House of Vans, Arches, 228-232 Station Approach Road, London SE1 8SW. Nearest tube: Waterloo. (map)

Dates: 22 September – 2 October 2016 (Private view: 21 September, 6pm).

Opening hours: 4-10pm Thursday – Friday; 10am-8pm Saturday; 12pm-6pm Sunday

Admission: FREE

The exhibition is running as part of International Alert’s #ART4PEACE campaign, for which a series of street art murals will also be painted from Peace Day.

Find out more about the Create Syria project here.

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Photo © Mohamad Khayata/ Koon Theatre Group