From Rochester With Love: Conversation in the Midst of the Syrian Conflict

Hala Georges (Producer)

    Research output: Non-Textual OutputExhibition


    "From Rochester with Love: Conversations in the Midst of the Syrian Conflict" is an exhibition inspired by Middle Eastern and Syrian contemporary art concerned with home and conflict. By interviewing friends and family, I recounted stories occurring during the on-going Syrian war that are routinely ignored by the media. Through my artistic practice, focused on moving image and illustration art, I attempted to re-configure the way we look at far-away struggles by offering an alternative personal and domestic view. I encouraged compassion not disturbance. Instead of violent imagery, I offered personal narratives concerned with the Syrian individuals. 
    The show was constructed around 15 videos, wall prints, and multiple video installations.

    By analysing Middle Eastern and Syrian art, interviewing friends and family, I recounted stories, experiences and events about the Syrian conflict that are routinely ignored by the media. What has repeatedly been reported is only confirming what we already know about a violent conflict and feeding existing clichés concerning such 'revolutions’. I am configured a new way to look at the war by offering a personal and domestic view, responding to it and incorporating it within a hybrid creative project within this exhibition.

    The exhibition offered a new approach to view the impact of the war, a view from inside the conflict, from behind the walls and closed doors of Syrian victims and refugees. It is avoided the repetition of what we see constantly on television and newspapers - blood, weapons and disjointed victims. Instead it presented the life of ordinary people during the war, namely people simply trying to live a normal life and have enough education, food and water to survive. As a Syrian myself with my family and friends and my personal connection to Syria I offered the viewer the unseen and the hidden reality of daily life at war. In that way, I aimed to enlighten people and change their perspective about the issue.

    The artwork displayed in this exhibition argued against the traditional clichés of war representation; that is to say the usual universal implications and constant, unbearable, disturbing imagery. Conversely, it was concerned with the Syrian individual and what he or she has to say about their life- changing experience.

    Moreover, I am positioned myself as both a participant and observer in the research led to this exhibition. This helped to create a new understanding of the Syrian situation and of the participants’ contributions to the research material. This all led to produce an original project, one which interweaves my own views and experiences of the Syrian conflict and with my understanding of the statements and views of my relatives and friends. As important, the collection of videos is not classified under one type of documentary film, instead, it is a combination of documentary, creativity and experimental forms of moving image, which led to a multi-platform of expression.

    I have offered the domestic view using whatever accessible devices, by participants whenever it is possible for them to talk, record and share their small histories. Collecting material from Syria whilst being in the UK, dependent on weak and disrupted internet connections and through phone calls, which led to having spontaneous and fragmented results due to the difficult circumstances of making the work. These qualities evidence the problems and realities of trying to make the work, and as such they encounter the media’s representation of crystal clear war imagery.

    The exhibition is an application of this research in which I invited viewers to enter this private and personal part of my life, as well as the lives of the participants, in relation to the tragic loss of home, loved ones, country, and future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationCanterbury
    PublisherHerbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, UK
    Media of outputOnline
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2016
    EventFrom Rochester with Love - Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, United Kingdom
    Duration: 16 Feb 201618 Mar 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Expenses & Grants:

    To cover the expenses of the exhibition, I submitted the Grant for the Arts application to the Art Council in summer 2015, which awarded me the full amount asked for; £7000. I also made an application to the Herbert Read Gallery management and curatorial team in May 2015 for the amount of £3,014 to support the exhibition. The gallery has awarded me the full amount and confirmed their interest in hosting the show from 18th February until 18th March 2016.

    The Herbert Read Gallery is the campus exhibition space at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), Canterbury. Founded in 1984 and rebuilt in 2001, it is named after the British modern art historian, poet and anarchist Herbert Read and hosts exhibitions and events on architecture, fine arts, design and fashion. Admission is free. Artists who have shown at the gallery include Jeremy Deller, Mark Titchner, Mike Nelson, Clio Barnard, Adam Chodzko, Susan Hiller, Aernout Mik, Janez Jansa, Janez Jansa and Janez Jansa and Jamie Shovlin. The gallery has also displayed outstanding projects by UCA students and the annual BA and MA Graduation Shows.


    • Syrian conflict
    • Multimedia
    • experiemntal film
    • graphic art
    • Illustration
    • exhibition
    • Middle East
    • Syrian war
    • political art
    • Practice based research
    • Moving Image
    • installation
    • war stories
    • interviews
    • Personal communication
    • domestic perspective
    • creative methods


    Dive into the research topics of 'From Rochester With Love: Conversation in the Midst of the Syrian Conflict'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
    • University College London

      Georges, H. (Visiting lecturer)

      22 May 2018

      Activity: Public Engagement and OutreachPublic lecture/debate/seminarResearch

    • Visual Activism & The Middle East/Contextual & Personal View

      Georges, H. (Speaker)

      23 May 201825 May 2018

      Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch

    • Huguenot Museum

      Georges, H. (Visiting lecturer)

      25 Jun 2016

      Activity: Public Engagement and OutreachPublic lecture/debate/seminarResearch

    • Beaney Museum

      Georges, H. (Visiting lecturer)

      1 Mar 2016

      Activity: Public Engagement and OutreachPublic lecture/debate/seminarResearch

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