Exhibition of Somali culture launches in Bristol

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Bristol Somali Culture Festival launch. Image © Michael Benjamin Williams-St Louis, C4 Yourself Productions.
A year long exhibition of Somali culture has launched at the MShed, as part of the Bristol Festival of Somali Culture.
Somalis in Bristol: Where Are We From and Who Are We Now? seeks to introduce new audiences to the richness of Somali culture, break down stereotypes and barriers, and engender a sense of understanding across communities.

it is important that we foster understanding amongst communities to create a cohesive, resilient and confident city

Bristol Somali Culture Festival launch. Image © Michael Benjamin Williams-St Louis, C4 Yourself Productions.

The exhibition features audio exhibits collected from a series of interviews with members of the Somali community in Bristol. Audiences will discover individual stories through striking photography and intimate oral accounts from teenagers who were born in the city, to those who have adopted it as a place of refuge.

Sado Jirde, Director, Black South West Network, says: “Somalis are one the fastest growing populations Bristol, it is important that we foster understanding amongst communities to create a cohesive, resilient and confident city. There is no better way to do that than through arts and culture. Thank you to Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the festival.”

Bristol Somali Culture Festival launch. Image © Michael Benjamin Williams-St Louis, C4 Yourself Productions.

Taking the theme Identity & Heritage, the Bristol Festival of Somali Culture ran 26 to 29 October and offered the best of Somali arts and culture with a mix of events including poetry, storytelling, panel discussions, documentary film screenings and music.  It was an unusual opportunity to experience some of the finest international, national, and local Somali talent.

how we evolve and face the challenges of the future will depend on how we can use the creative resources that diversity gifts us

The festival was supported with an award of £14,718 from our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts scheme and is part of a wider project led by Black South West Network exploring how Somali identity and culture have developed in Bristol over the last 25 years.

Bringing together a mix of artists, young and old, who use a variety of mediums the festival events explored the themes of identity, heritage, and belonging in the context of a multi-ethnic city in a globalized world.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, says: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Bristol Festival of Somali Culture. Events like this are important to us as individuals as well as to society: diversity is one of the most important issues of our age – we live in a remarkably diverse society, and how we evolve and face the challenges of the future will depend on how we can use the creative resources that diversity gifts us.”

Events include:

•    Somali Literature and Poetry Evening in partnership with the Poetry Translation Centre, showcasing the literary work of Somali artists who have fought for their right to speak, write, think, and perform.

•    Screening of Broken Dreams, a documentary by Somali filmmaker Fathia Absiye, telling the story of a group of teenage Somali-American boys who left their families in Minneapolis to join Al – shabab in Somalia. The film explores the themes of identity, belonging and radicalization among young Somalis in the Diaspora.

•    Celebrate Somali Family Fun Day where audiences can have a go at creating their own Somali name, take part in craft activities, and enjoy stories with Zaynab Dahir, a dynamic Somali storyteller.

The festival forms part of Bristol’s Black History Month programme. Black History Month is an annual festival that celebrate the culture, history and achievement of Britain’s African and Caribbean communities.

Bristol Somali Culture Festival launch. Image © Michael Benjamin Williams-St Louis, C4 Yourself Productions.

SOURCE:ARTSCOUNCIL

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