Somalis in Bristol is a simple yet telling exhibition, documenting the life stories of Somali people in a personal, intimate manner for a much-needed lesson on migrants in the UK. Displayed in Bristol’s MShed, a venue focusing on art for local people, the series of simple portraits and stories is an important educational feature, in a nation where immigrant hostility and nationalism continues to grow.
The portraits uncover the personality and radiating positivity of ten Bristolian Somalis, who rightly view themselves as Somali-British citizens. Accompanied by quotes and an interactive platform through which their life stories are told, the subjects are revealed as strong and optimistic characters.
Furthermore, sections of the small exhibit introduce Somali culture and explain the reasons for Somali migration. In another, participants describe inspiring members of Bristol’s Somali community: “He’s a teacher, community activist, mediator and mentor”, “youth worker, role model for young people” and “erudite public servant, educator, human right activist”. Printed around a full-length mirror (encouraging viewers to place themselves in Somali shoes), these quotes are examples of an involved and (contrary to certain beliefs propagated by the recent Brexit campaign) actively integrating migrant community.
It is a small exhibit but a poignant one. Mshed, true to its ethos, houses an exhibit that is local, interactive and educational. Somalis in Bristol shows migrants at the heart of the city’s community, and offers a message that many UK citizens would do well to learn from.
Somalis in Bristol runs through to 29th October 2017 at the MShed, Bristol. Featured image was taken by Kirsty Mackay (all rights reserved). More information about the exhibit can be found here.