Symposium: In Which Language Do We Dream? — Impressions Gallery

How might photography ethically and imaginatively represent refugee stories?

How do displaced artists work between cultures and across borders?

Can photographs help change the traditional media narratives around forced displacement?

Join Rich Wiles and artists Ala Buisir, Gohar Dashti and Andrew Jackson, as well as journalist & playwright Anan Tello, curator Ziyah Gafić (VII Academy) and Raghad Mardini, founding director of Litehouse Gallery, for an international symposium inspired by In Which Language Do We Dream?

The event is chaired by Anne McNeill, Director of Impressions Gallery and curator of the exhibition, and will close with a screening of a short film by Ruba and Rami al-Hindawi in collaboration with Rich Wiles.

This hybrid digital/in-person symposium will be held in the gallery and live streamed online.

We are familiar with the news headlines and the photographic images of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’. But what happens after displacement to those who are resettled and try to rebuild their lives? What about personal stories, and the relationships that form between new friends and new neighbours? And how do people hold on to loved ones and a past life that they had to leave behind? In Which Language Do We Dream? offers fresh insights into these issues, through the photographic perspectives of a Syrian family with first-hand experience.

The multi-stranded exhibition presents an intimate perspective on the lives of displaced people: one in which displaced people themselves tell their own stories. Archival family photos rescued from Syria will be presented alongside contemporary photographs by Rich Wiles, new work by the al-Hindawi family, and in particular Ruba al-Hindawi, as well as a specially commissioned film of WhatsApp photos sent by their extended family members and shared across national boundaries.

The al-Hindawi family are refugees from Syria who have collaborated with photographer Rich Wiles to help shape the exhibition In Which Language Do We Dream?. In 2012, the year after the crisis in Syria began, Rami, Ruba and their children Mustapha, Yazan and Hanan were forced to flee Homs, the city of their home. In Homs they lived alongside their large extended family. They fled across the closest border into Lebanon, remaining there until 2017 when they were offered the chance to resettle under the British Government’s VPRS scheme. Shortly after they arrived, their daughter Rayan was born. Most of their surviving family members are displaced and spread across several countries, although a few remain in Syria today. What began as a documentary project by Rich Wiles has grown into a significant collaboration. With Rich’s support and encouragement, Ruba has photographed herself, her husband and her children’s daily life as they navigate resettlement and integration.

In Which Language Do We Dream? was made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.  The exhibition is a co-created project with curator Anne McNeill guiding the photographic selection through collaboration and discussion with Rich Wiles and the al-Hindawi family. The symposium is supported by Counterpoints Arts as part of Platforma 6.

Booking essential via Eventbrite
In-person and virtual event tickets available.

Pay what you can afford, suggested donations £3, £6, £12
Impressions Gallery is a charity and we fundraise for everything we do. Please consider donating to support our events programme. Subsidised tickets are available for those who would otherwise be unable to attend.


2.00pm – Welcome from Anne McNeill, Director, Impressions Gallery

2.05pm – Short film: Introduction to In Which Language Do We Dream? 

2.15pm – Provocation by Andrew Jackson, photographer and co-founder of ReFramed collective for photographers of colour.

2.30pm Panel 1: Telling stories, amplifying voices

Facilitator: Raghad Mardini, founding director Litehouse Gallery

2.30pm – Rich Wiles, photographer

2.45pm – Anan Tello, writer

3.00pm – Questions

3.15pm Coffee break

Launch of newspaper featuring photographs taken by the al-Hindawi family presenting experiences from the children, Mustapha, Yazan and Hanan’s point of view.

3.45pm Panel 2: Changing the narrative

Facilitator: Andrew Jackson, photographer

3.45pm – Ala Buisir, artist

4.00pm – Ziyah Gafić, curator

4.15pm – Gohar Dashti, artist

4.30pm – Questions

4.45pm – Forum

Closing remarks and presentation of a specially commissioned film of WhatsApp photos sent by al-Hindawi family members and shared across national boundaries.

5.15pm – End


Symposium: In Which Language Do We Dream? — Impressions Gallery