Thank you to everyone who attended our popular art exhibition at Four Corners Gallery, Bethnal Green.
From Tuesday until Saturday last week, we opened the doors of the gallery to those from afar as well as from our own community, to experience Tim Sanders’ unique portrait of Palestine sketched during The Freedom Ride earlier this year.
We were humbled to host over one hundred and twenty people at the opening of the exhibition where guests enjoyed Palestinian cuisine whilst browsing the illustrations and listening to our speakers. Al Jazeera broadcast the evening’s events live! The first speaker to address the audience – international and in house – was Mo’min Swaitat, a graduate from The Freedom Theatre, the institution which organised The Freedom Ride. He spoke passionately about The Freedom Threatre, cultivating individual talent of Palestinians and the importance of protecting the cultural life of Jenin, our twinned city. He shared the lamentable news that Cinema Jenin was to be destroyed to make way for a shopping arcade. Mo’min emphasised the value of art in shaping, not merely a response to oppression, but articulating a vision of a more hopeful future.
We owe a great debt of thanks to Zaytoun for their enormous contribution to the exhibition. Wesam Tayboub, social relations manager for Zaytoun also spoke at our opening, delighting us with the details of the ancient olive harvest in the West Bank and giving mouth-watering descriptions of Palestinian cuisine produced using ingredients such as Palestinian Medjoul dates. Zaytoun produce, which supports Palestinian farmers to continue to make a living despite the obstacles of occupation, was snapped up in great quantity during the week, especially the ‘liquid gold’ olive oil!
Tim Sanders, with his characteristic humility and humour, shared insights and inspirations that helped form the reportage style of his illustrations. He spoke movingly of the deeply affecting scenes that he witnessed, albeit it briefly, hoping that ‘the images would speak for themselves’. One of the illustrations he captioned ‘To Exist is To Resist’, for him this was the most evocative slogan of life in Palestine, capturing so much experience in so few words – something he wished to replicate with his art.
We are delighted that many who visited the exhibition throughout the week not only enjoyed the experience but said that the illustrations enhanced their awareness of Palestinian life and struggle, just as Tim intended.
We are enormously grateful to those who made the exhibition possible, including all the individual donors and unions who sponsored Tim to attend the Freedom Ride 2016 (NUT, Unite Housing Branch, NUJ, Unison, UCU); Zaytoun; those involved in production and logistics including Four Corners Gallery, Ginger White company, print 101, Riverside Printers, Smith+Bell; as well as all the activists from our Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity group who, with no previous experience of this type of undertaking, worked over many months to put on our first ever exhibition.