Thursday, 18 August 2016


Personally I like words (I think you know that right?!) but I also know that images are hugely important. We are bombarded with them and the lenses through which we see the world shape the world we see. Whether its the imagery of advertising, humorous memes on social media or what the news cameras choose to focus in on we are all susceptible to the influence of the image.

So what we portray and how we do so is really important.

I was already thinking about this post before the Refugee team paraded into the Rio opening ceremony under the Olympic flag to thunderous applause but they are a symbol of what I was hoping to say. However well they do in the competition, I am very glad they are there.

I know it continues to be important that we see images of crowds of humanity huddled in shivering temperatures behind barbed wire fences and the bodies of children washed ashore on beaches from sinking boats which should never have been on the sea. I know we need to never tire of seeing the desperation and suffering of those fleeing horrors we cannot begin to imagine; to be reminded, again and again that no-one ever puts themselves, their loved ones, their families, their children in those situations unless they have no other choice.

But we need other images too. We need images like those of the Olympic refugee team, parading with pride and competing with courage. Images such as those those I am lucky enough to have stored in my camera and engraved in my memory after a wonderful summer school week with my students from St Chad's Sanctuary at the end of July. These are crucial too. Crucial as a reminder that this struggling, desperate mass of humanity on the move is made up of people.

People whose lives have been interrupted by unimaginable suffering, for sure, but people with lives that are much more than just that experience. People who talk and cry and laugh, who sing and share and smile. People who struggle and question and doubt, but who also believe, hope and dream. People with energy and creativity and a sense of fun. People with gifts and talents and generosity. People who have lost much, people who still have so much to give.

People like us.

So here are my own #teamrefugees.

These are the smiling, inspirational people I want you to see every time the Daily Mail shows an image intended to invoke your fear and anger; or even when the Guardian wishes to invoke your pity.

Be afraid of the world we are creating, by all means; weep for the human lives it destroys, certainly... but then go out, overcome your fear and your pity, and make new friends.

Friday, 5 August 2016

A splash of colour

"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky" 
(Khalil Gibran)