Issam Kourbaj and Ruth Padel




This extraordinary exhibition by Issam Kourbaj and Ruth Padel, is travelling to museums around the world including the British Museum, the V&A, the Fitzwilliam and the USA’s Penn Museum. The focus of this installation at The Lookout, which is part of Poetry in Aldeburgh, is 80 boats which refers to 80 months since the Syrian uprising.


In Wednesday’s Telegraph (01/11/2017), Alastair Sooke, asks when was the last time we cried in an exhibition? For him, it was last Thursday afternoon at the British Museum’s Living with Gods. The work of art which so affected him was by Issam kourbaj.


The poet Ruth Padel has had a lifelong relationship with Greece. She visited the island in 2016, went into camps, talked to refugees, islanders and a local newspaper editor who found stark echoes of the Syrian refugees’ stories in memories of her own grandmother, a refugee from Smyrna in 1922. Padel then joined Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj in a collaboration to mark the courage of the refugees, and generosity of the islanders. Kourbaj’s artwork is both in response to the Syrian tragedy and crisis, and inspired by 5th century BC Syrian vessels in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Dark Water Burning World explores, through poetry and art, the visible and invisible scars of loss scorched into escaping Syrians by the separation from their homeland.

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Issam Kourbaj