Home from home

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Home From Home

by Alex Rennie

 

A two-day solo exhibition in support of two charities who are helping Syrian refugees  – The Rural Refugee Network and Children on the Edge. These two charities work in the UK and camps in Lebanon to Embrace, Empower and Protect families and children forced to flee the Syrian conflict.
My work focuses on the proud British tradition of welcoming those in need.
Using recognisable imagery, I want to celebrate all the contributions made by British people to help give these families a chance to rebuild their lives.
All work will be for sale and 33% of proceeds will go to the aforementioned charities.

British painter Alex Rennie is working on a series of paintings for a solo exhibition at The
Frestonian Gallery in London. Titled Home from Home, the exhibition explores the theme of
a British welcome in relation to the Syrian migrant crisis. A percentage of sales proceeds will
be donated to the charities; Rural Refugee Network and Children on the Edge.
Speaking about this new body of work Rennie explains: “As an artist, you want to say
something about the world you live in. I am aware of the fatigue and ambivalence to victims
of the Syrian crisis, fuelled by parts of the media, and want to instead highlight the proud
British tradition of welcoming those in need. Embracing, protecting and empowering Syrian
families and children forced to flee their homeland are the primary goals of the two
charities; these themes are at the heart of the exhibition.
Rather than portray explicit scenes of refugee life, Rennie has taken an alternative visual
approach. He continues, “My mother is an Ango-Indian migrant who worked as a teacher
and translator for refugees when I was a child. While I cannot claim to know what it’s like to
be a refugee, I do know what it’s like to be part of this country and to welcome people here.
I have chosen symbolic imagery that the British public would recognise and relate to.”
Rennie held a number of interviews and workshops with Syrian refugees and children that
have been resettled in the UK by the Rural Refugee Network. The resulting artworks are
informed by these testimonies as well as discussions with both charities about the successes
they have had and the challenges they face.
Among the imagery featured are teacups, sandcastles, flowers and flags. “Teacups are
quintessentially British, but they also represent the gestures and moments that bring people
together the world over”, Rennie says. Sandcastles, which feature in a number of the
paintings, are a reference to that old British expression ‘A man’s home is his castle’; safe and
secure but also to keep people out. Rennie has chosen this object of play to reflect the
universal desire to protect children and their right to a childhood.
“Speaking to Children On The Edge, an important part of their work is to provide protection
for refugee children, a safe environment for them to play, to learn, to live, and empower
them as they grow.”, Rennie says. Paintings with trompe I’oeil marks made with a human
hand in the sand signifies sanctuary amidst the chaos of war and charts the arrival of those
setting foot on the shores of a new land.

This notion of empowerment was crucial to the artist. “It’s not just about empowering the
refugees themselves, but about empowering the public to take action and to play a part in
tackling the worst humanitarian crisis of our generation.”
The exhibition runs for two days only, 24th and 25th September 2019 at The Frestonian
Gallery in West London.
For press information please contact Anna Meyer on +44 7747 000 898 or
annacmeyer@gmail.com