Monday 30 January 2017

Asylum Seekers’ Comics Describe Escape, Hope and Longing

The participants were all keen to go through their comics in the review sessions. 
Grassroot comics workshops were held during 2016-2017 in Finnish reception centers in Helsinki, Kontiolahti and Lieksa. As a result of this, the asylum seekers’ comics exhibition Illustrating Me starts its tour on the 30th of January 2017 in Porvoo as a part of the Comics Festival Å-fest. On the same day the exhibition opens in the web (see web address below).

The comic exhibition brings up asylum seekers’ personal stories and experiences. They describe situation in their home countries, their journey to Europe, everyday life in Finland and share their future dreams. For many of the participants the comics are a first attempt to visually express the turning points of their lives.

The idea of the asylum seekers’ comic workshops came up in summer 2015 when refugee issue was a hot topic in Finland. From summer 2016 on the associations Hei Helsinki and World Comics Finland organized 8 workshops from which 29 comics were chosen to the touring exhibition.

Many asylum seekers participating in the workshops didn’t have any experience in drawing. The new challenge was embraced with enthusiasm. The participants of the workshops came from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Iran, Gambia, Albania, Cameroon, Russia and Guinea. One of the workshops was held in a meeting of Service Civil International (KVT ry) because many asylum seekers participate in voluntary work camps in Finland.

All of the comics drawn in the workshops can be seen in the web exhibition
The touring program of the exhibition can be found on the same web page.

Posted by the Exhibition theme

by Yasser Hassan (of no nationality)
by Waad, Syria
Deep concentration at drawing her comics (above).

by Mustafa, Iraq

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