Talbot Rice Gallery were delighted to welcome the Scottish Refugee Council’s Share My Table group to the University during the August festivals.
Share My Table is a project based at Glasgow Tramway, established to bring together refugees, asylum seekers and native Scots through the sharing of food, storytelling, visual art and performance. The group number around 40 members originating from Afghanistan, Algeria, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Lithuania, Palestine, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria. The project has created essential social links for all those involved, the sense of warmth, friendship and community was clearly evident upon getting to know the group during their visit to Edinburgh.
Talbot Rice worked in partnership with Edinburgh Art Festival, Fruitmarket Gallery and National Galleries of Scotland to organise a welcome lunch at Talbot Rice followed by a walking tour of some festival highlights. Compelling introductions to the work were provided at each exhibition by members of staff from the respective organisations, giving the group a unique context through which to view both the art and the spaces it inhabits.
This visit was initiated by the gallery as part of a wider programme of activity around our next exhibition, Vertigo Sea, by the hugely respected artist and filmmaker, John Akomfrah. Akomfrah’s work explores memory, post-colonialism and often the experiences of the global migrant diaspora. A migrant himself, Akomfrah was born in Ghana in 1957 and arrived in the UK with his family as a young child in the early 1960s. This year, the artist was awarded the esteemed Artes Mundi prize, an award that celebrates artists who use their work to offer unique perspectives on humanity and society, challenge preconceptions and seek to encourage new ways of thinking and seeing.
Inspired by Akomfrah’s ideas, the Curatorial Team at Talbot Rice decided to harness the moment and use this upcoming exhibition as an opportunity to welcome new Scots to Edinburgh; the majority of Scotland’s refugee and asylum-seeking population are based in Glasgow thanks to the support and integration infrastructure in place in the city.
It was a fantastic chance to share the university, the city and some of the best visual art in Edinburgh with a new and diverse audience. We hope that our visitors enjoyed the chance to see Edinburgh in the midst of the festival’s buzz, had a varied and interesting experience of visual art and, most importantly, felt warmly welcomed. Our partners echo this sentiment and have expressed enthusiasm to meet the group again and to continue building on the partnerships we have established during the planning and delivery of this event.
We hope to welcome the Share My Table group again during the Vertigo Sea exhibition, which begins in October.
Clare McAllister is Curatorial Graduate Trainee (Equality and Diversity) at Talbot Rice Gallery.
Vertigo Sea, the John Akomfrah exhibition, will be open to the public from Saturday 21st October 2017 - Saturday 27th January 2018, with a preview on Friday 20th October.
Throughout the exhibition the gallery will present a full programme of accompanying events. You can sign up to the Talbot Rice Gallery mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org to stay up to date on these activities.