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Off-Site Exhibition

Ruya

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RUYA - an exhibition by Sareh Abasi, Syeda Sadaf Anwar, Najat El Bouhali Digoug and Morwenna Kearsley

Venue: Trongate 103. 

Opening Reception: Saturday 2nd March - 3-5pm.

Ruya showcases a new collection of photographs made over the last year, created during an extended series of workshops, facilitated by Morwenna Kearsley. The title is primarily a female name of Arabic origin that means vision, sight or dream.

Comprising primarily of portraiture, self-portraiture and still life, the images reflect on cultural heritage, representation and memories of home. They also document the process of discovering a photographic voice: through workshopping, experimentation, and play. Taking inspiration from photographers such as Shirin Nashat, Zanele Muholi and Vivian Maier; visiting museums and galleries and undertaking workshops in the studio and the darkroom, the group used their cameras to look at themselves and each other, as their lives progressed and changed. 

The group originally met in 2021 through funded photography workshops Morwenna was offering, hosted by local social enterprises in Govanhill, such as Milk, Bees Knees and Small Plate, as part of her Culture Collective residency with Street Level Photoworks. Beginning with photowalks in the local area and workshops in studio portraiture, still life and collage, the group moved on to a new project in 2023, from which Ruya has emerged. Over the time that the group have known each other, Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to her son, Liam, who is an honorary member. As is Lydia Gitamvu, who contributed to the project in the first year and to previous exhibitions of work, entitled My Mother, My Country at Trongate 103 and Milk Café in 2022. 

When we started, I didn’t really know anything about photography. It was my dream since childhood to be a photographer but I never had any chance in my country to do it, to even have a camera. So this was a big opportunity for me. I have learned so much and I wish people could see our first works and our latest ones so they could see our progress. (Sareh)

After Covid stopped all activity, it really helped with mental health so much. To go out, to take a picture outside and to meet for a coffee and to visit museums in Glasgow and Edinburgh - it was a very, very good experience. (Najat)

One of the most important things, for me, about our work together has been making three new friends. But also learning more about the differences and similarities in our cultures and thinking about how that applies to photography. So there’s things I’ve learned about the ethics of photography from the others in the group that I now feel I have more knowledge on and sensitivity with, which I will take into my other work. (Morwenna)

As a mum of two, I am busy in my house and this is the first time in my life I have the opportunity to have a camera in my hand and take photos by my choice and its very helpful for me. I feel glad to be a part of this group. (Syeda)

This project was developed by Morwenna Kearsley and is part of Street Level's Culture Collective community-based artist residency programme.

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