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Iranian Diaspora: Stories of Sanctuary and Solidarity

Brainchild of researcher Dr. Roghieh Dehghan Zaklaki, a Wellcome clinical research fellow at UCL, London, UK, "Iranian Diaspora: Stories of Sanctuary and Solidarity” was a creative engagement forming an integral part of her doctoral research centring on the mental health of Iranian torture survivors  and migrants in the UK, and was accomplished in collaboration with artists Maryam Hashemi, my humble self,  Lola Awada (as the only non-Iranian in the project), Nasrin Parvaz  and Majid Adin, as well as public engagement consultant, Dr. Sohail Jannesari.

Three different groups of Iranian migrants and refugees were each invited to take part in sets of two different workshops, during which they were encouraged to create different types of artworks based on their personal feelings about and interpretation of the themes of migration and solidarity, and all that branches out of them.

The culmination of the creative engagement was a multimedia public exhibition, which took place in Central London’s Southbank in March 2024 at the Oxo Tower Wharf Gallery (Gallery@Oxo). The exhibition showcased the artwork created by the participants during the workshops, as well as work by the collaborating artists and work initiated by the participants and enhanced or completed by the artists.


The main objectives of the exhibition were to draw attention to the plight of Iranian refugees in particular and refugees in general and to create a neutral creative atmosphere where the Iranian diaspora in London and beyond could find a space of solidarity where to interact in harmony, regardless of any creed, simply as human beings sharing similar experiences in a foreign land, and hopefully to ignite the flame of a potential discussion among them to reach a common purpose along common grounds. 


The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust, and the exhibition was generously supported by the Arts Council's Lottery Fund, to whom we are profoundly grateful.

You may also wish to follow the project on social media, as we intend to create a Virtual Exhibition of it in the not too distant future and to keep the conversation going. 

Official Poster | Iranian Diaspora: Stories of Sanctuary and Solidarity
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The Solidarity Forest

The Solidarity Forest was created as a symbolic representation of the fact that, like the trees in a forest, although each is an individual and different tree, in order to survive, it still depends on the network of roots that connects all the trees of the forest together. It is the same with us humans, although we are all individuals, with different characters, ideas, beliefs and ways of seeing and understanding the world, we still depend on one another to survive and thrive, so true Solidarity between each other is essential.


Each participant was given a different “tree maquette” made by the artist (Lola Awada), which they were asked to individualise. Lola then enhanced some of the trees and connected them together by the roots, some of which are broken symbolically, to represent the inevitable inner rupture experienced by anyone who is forced to leave their homeland.

The workshops