State of Mind uses the arts and storytelling to open bigger dialogue with the public and communities on today's unprecedented displacement crises.
State of Mind is aimed at widening the scope of current discussions to more strongly connect mental health and displacement in public debates and artistic platforms. Collaborating with museums, institutions and organisations, we show how artistic spaces and the power of empathy-driven narratives can help challenge preconceived notions of displaced communities, open minds to the lived experiences of displacement, and build better respect for how trauma, anxiety, stress and depression affect people's lives - whether in refugee camps or urban communities. These spaces will seek to transform and interrogate perceptions of displaced persons as categories of people to be 'Othered', stereotyped or excluded, and bring more nuanced interpretation to concepts of identity, belonging and inclusion in resettlement.
Our research will draw on how public engagement, when understood through behavioural sciences, can create positive social change and inspire leadership in the reaction to and reception of displaced communities.
State of Mind brings to the public a diversity of talks, expressive arts and visual narratives, including exhibitions, practical workshops, screenings, and spoken word events.
Connecting science and arts to action and civic dialogue on displacement: external reports, podcasts and vidoes
This Is Your Brain on Picasso: The Human Brain on Art
Wall Street Journal
Your Brain on Art:
Understanding the Brain in Creative Action
University of Houston
Unpacked: Refugee Baggage
Refugee Artists Return to Syrian Yarmouk Camp to Depict Dreams
SAMER SAEM ELDAHR
A new digital commissioning programme to support displaced Syrian artists has been launched by The Space and the British Council
THE NATIVE AND THE REFUGEE
HISTORY OF THE CAMP
'Child Labour' - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Bassam 12, Tamer 11, Lubna 16 and Farah 11, pose in a picture that depicts their experiences working. Many Syrian children in the Anjar refugee camp in Lebanon are forced to work to help support their families. Bassam and Tamer both sell tissues for a living after a wall fell on their father's leg during shelling in Syria, rendering him unable to work. They often work for 12 hours a day, earning on average just $3. Both brothers have faced abuse whilst working.
Many girls also work in factories peeling oranges to make tinned fruit, often working 7am to 6pm, earning as little as $8 a day. Children who work miss schooling in order to support their families. Lubna says "education is very important. I feel it is especially important for girls. When girls get education, they are respected in society. Some girls even have jobs in factories. They shouldn't be working - they should be studying".
The bright background of the image reflects the common practice of using old advertising flex to cover refugee tents to make them waterproof. This acts as an interesting juxtaposition between child labour and the branded products that might be produce.
'What Happened (The Past)' - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Walaa, 11, left Syria with her pregnant mother because airstrikes had blown up all the hospitals, schools and supermarkets in the area. They had no access to food, water or health services - everything they needed to survive. One day, as she was walking home, Walaa saw her school explode before her eyes, as shells landed on the buildings. She could smell burning and heard the sound of plane engines as they flew low overhead.
This image uses an original drawing created by Walaa to tell the story of the moment her school was bombed. Walaa's drawing has been re-created and enlarged into a 3D tableau, using props made by children in the camp. Walaa says, "the aircraft targeted the school with rockets. I thought my uncles had been killed and I cried." Many Syrian refugee children experience first-hand the devastating impact of airstrikes on homes and schools.
'The Mountain Journey' – Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania.
Children in the Nyarugusu camp for Burundian refugees re-enact crossing the mountains of Burundi on foot in order to find refuge in Tanzania. Iveye, 6, is pictured on the far left carrying her 18 month-old sister Rebecca on her back. It took Iveye five days to travel from her home to Tanzania with her two sisters and her father, Pierre.
Pierre says, “When we reached the border, the police on the Burundian side would not let me cross into Tanzania with my daughters. So I separated from them and snuck across the border using a secret path. When I had safely reached the other side, I came out and signaled to Iveye* and her sisters. When they saw me, they ran across the border right under the gaze of the policemen who could do nothing to stop them.”
Many children have to take this journey all alone, sometimes walking for 2 days without food. Along the way, many sustain injuries from stones on the path, vegetation and dark ravines. This mountain depiction is a visual rendering of the actual mountains children have to cross.
'Doctor Malaria' – Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania.
This image depicts the future dream of a young boy, Anicet, aged ten, who wishes to be a doctor treating malaria when he grows up. Malaria is the biggest killer in the Nyarugusu refugee camp where Anicet lives. Having fled his native Burundi with his grandparents nearly a year ago, Anicet, attends a Temporary Learning Space run by Save the Children in the camp. His dreams represent those of tens of thousands of children who have fled Burundi and now hope for a better future through education. Anicet says, “I want to be a doctor so that I can help people, make a difference and save lives. This would make me a very important person and it would help me get something in my life.”
'Education' - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Hatem, 15, has spent four years in the camp. He initially went to school for two years, but had to stop as his family had no money to carry on his education. He used to love school and his favourite subjects were Maths, English and Arabic. Hatem had planned to go to university and join the army but now those dreams are all gone.
He said he is "sad and scared' about his destiny. "When I was in Syria, I saw my school getting hit by an airstrike. I was scared that my house would be targeted. We fled the shelling and came here. Now that i am in Lebanon, I will not become a teacher. There are schools here but we don't have money to pay the tuition and continue studying. Education is important. You can become a teacher at a school instead of working as a porter and getting a lot of physical pain. Because I am working now and I have been off school for 3 years, I have missed a lot of studying and won't be able to fill the gap". He now sells clothes at a Souk in a market and practices Dabke dance in the camp to keep himself busy.