For once take my hand and walk with me.
For once look at the city through my eyes.
There is an ocean in every raindrop.
And a story behind the abandoned newspaper.
Look at the teddy bear on the pillar box.
Patiently waiting till little hands return and hug him.
He gets soaked by the rain. And he waits. And waits.
There are seasons in a leaf and history in the waters of the river.
There is a life in every breath and a tragedy in every fingertip of my hand.
I want to show you the china in the grass of Hyde Park and the empty bottle of wine on a headstone at Highgate Cemetery.
I want you to see the sadness in the eyes of the lady in black.
And the death behind the bouguet of roses, slowly rotting away by the roadside.
Look at me. I want you to see the human underneath dirt and rags.
Hidden Lives: The Untold Story of Urban Refugees
Hidden Lives: The Untold Story of Urban Refugees is an exhibition at St Pancras International - 6th to 31st January 2013
The project is a collaboration between the International Rescue Commission, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, and award-winning photographer Andrew McConnell. The IRC says the work “is about challenging stereotypes and the traditional view of refugees.” The exhibition’s aim is to raise awareness on the urban refugees’ plight.
There are many different case-studies from a number of countries around the world. The stories of these urban refugees are sad and distressing, but there are also many tales of human endurance and resilience in the face of suffering - as well as a strong determination to see things through.
Tuesday night 15th January saw the exhibition’s official launch. The exhibition itself is sited at various locations amongst the splendid surroundings of the newly restored train shed and shopping malls at St Pancras International station in London.
Panos tweets on official launch of exhibition.
Panos Pictures were responsible for organising the St Pancras exhibition, which follows the company’s ethos of aim of interpreting, rather than simply recording, photographs.
Carolyn Makinson, Executive Director, IRC-UK introducing the exhibition.
Andrew McConnell discussing his work and the Hidden Lives exhibition.
Betjeman looks up at the iconic St Pancras roof during Hidden Lives’ launch
I found the exhibition very interesting and learnt a lot about these refugees. The quality of the photography work was excellent, clearly due to Andrew McConnell’s use of after-dark hours for his compositions, which clearly follows on from his excellent award-winning work The Last Colony.
Stunning images - and must go see!
Some of my pictures of the launch and the exhibition itself are shown here. It’s difficult to contextualise the exhibition effectively within the large spaces at St Pancras by photographs alone, so I suggest a visit to the station is the best way to see these examples of Andrew McConnell’s work.
Some of the exhibits in the northern hall of St Pancras International.
I was interested to learn that Albert Einstein, one of my favourite scientists, was instrumental in the founding of the IRC. Einstein was not just a scientist, he was also a humanitarian and seriously concerned about human strife. It’s a far cry from his famous Theories of Relativity and a long way from his humble beginnings as a clerk in Bern.
Clearly human strife will continue as long as inequality and struggle for power ensure determines that the quality of so many lives shall remain poor. Sadly hope, dignity and opportunity for many remains a long-distance goal whilst others engage in what seems to be a quest for perpetual struggle.
Exhibition panel in the middle shopping mall at St Pancras International.
For the full story behind the photographs instrumental in the exhibition and their creation, a four-minute video can be seen on the exhibition’s about page.
Further views of the Hidden Lives exhibition panels at St Pancras.
The International Rescue Committee is a humanitarian and post-conflict development organisation, working with people in more than 40 countries around the world. Link to its website.
The Hidden Lives exhibition will be travelling around the UK and internationally.