Alan Gignoux has received a National Lottery Project Grant, which will allow the team at Gignoux Photos to complete our “You can see me, but I don’t exist” project exploring the emotional and psychological impact of the asylum-seeking process on applicants . This Lottery funding makes it possible for us to extend our creative cooperation with the Jesuit Refugee Service in London to groups in Manchester and Birmingham, and to create an exhibition-book for display in libraries in all three cities during Refugee Week 2023.
Earlier this year, with the support of JRS Refugee Activity Coordinator Dallya Alhorri, Gignoux to took camera obscura portraits of twelve long term asylum seekers, some of whom have been waiting for a response to their applications for as long as nineteen years.
Following this, Gignoux Photos organised a series of writing workshops led by poet Laila Sumpton in which refugees were asked to write poems, written reflections, and letters in response to Gignoux’s photographic portraits. The refugees’ poems addressed themes such as the strains of living in limbo, poverty, isolation, and despair, but also love, memories of home, hopes and dreams.
In November, in collaboration with Leigh-based community group Everything Human Rights, we will start workshops in Manchester, led by poet and writer Ambrose Musiyiwa. This will be followed by a further series of workshops in Birmingham led by poet Malka Al Haddad.
Our aim is to create an exhibition-book containing Gignoux’s portraits and corresponding poems written by refugees. This will be offered via the Library and Schools of Sanctuary network to libraries and schools in London, Manchester, and Birmingham for display during Refugee Week 2023.
Gignoux Photos would like to thank the refugee friends at JRS in London who participated in this project and Tom Green at Counterpoint Arts for his support during the preparation of our application.
Alan Gignoux and all of us at Gignoux Photos would like to thank Arts Council England for their support.