Project Update from the Curator

Project Update from the Curator

In terms of physical exhibitions, The Place I Call Home project is now over. The evaluation and dissemination of the project content and stories will continue, despite the current global crisis. We will continue to post new content on the website, and our partner at Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah is launching an online photo challenge, as well as video content about the exhibition there and a 3D virtual tour. Additionally, Ffotogallery has now produced a legacy catalogue for The Place I Call Home, bringing together in a single volume content from the seven individual publications which have been distributed free to exhibition visitors, partners, participating artists and young people.

The project’s aim was to create new work exploring shared narratives of people from the Gulf living in the UK and British people living in the Gulf states, and to open up a conversation about identity, culture and future possibilities with audiences. I believe we achieved that well, and together we pulled off a remarkable project in occasionally challenging circumstances.

Project Update from the Curator

The resulting exhibition was creative and vibrant, not purely adhering to documentary forms and modalities. It shared visual depictions of cultures, history and heritage and forged new and enriched working relationships between the British Council, Ffotogallery, and the participating artists and arts, cultural and educational institutions.

The exhibition and accompanying programmes facilitated new creative partnerships with other organisations such as Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah and Bahrain University, the American University in Kuwait and British Schools in Oman and Bahrain. These are significant partnerships and form the basis for potential work in the future.

Another impact was the Creative Internship scheme – The Place I Call Home created recruitment of a Young Curators Group in Derby, UK, three Creative Interns in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Edinburgh, and five in Bahrain, who assisted with invigilation and de-installations, and generating new creative content subsequently shared online through web and social media platforms.

Project Update from the Curator

The social media and web platforms remained ‘live’ throughout and had additional content added after the exhibition finished in each country.

Online reach and engagement to date have been impressive, particularly in the context of a photographic exhibition:

  • 38,250 visitors were recorded on the website ( between July 2019 and March 2020
  • 57% of website visitor traffic was from outside the UK with around 43% in the GCC region
  • 75,625 “engagements” were generated, in the form of likes, retweets and comments, across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
  • There have also been 75,625 views/followers across ffotogallery’s social media platforms with total organic reach being 1,356,000.

Given the high profile and exposure the project attained, it has provided an important platform for UK and GCC-based artists and interns, both in terms of the wider international exposure of their work and the opportunities to make new work and to become involved in public programmes.

The project is also timely, not only in terms of shedding light on UK-Gulf relationships, but also in creating opportunities for the work of GCC artists to be exposed beyond the country they are resident in. Over the preceding decade there have been very few solo exhibitions and no group exhibitions in Europe which have featured photographers and lens-based artists from across the GCC region.

Project Update from the Curator

As I reflect on the project at home, I have some many good memories and stories I will endeavour to share in the coming months and years.

I would like to thank everybody involved in the project, in whatever capacity, for contributing to its success and believing in the value of it. As galleries, theatres, concert halls, libraries, universities, schools and places of worship remain closed around the world, we should take heart from what we have achieved together over the last two years, and what is possible in the future when we finally emerge from the shadow of the current global pandemic.

David Drake, Curator, The Place I Call Home

Director, Ffotogallery