An exhibition of paintings by London-based Syrian artist Sara Shamma comes to the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral this October.
Shamma’s engagement with issues of modern slavery and, in particular, the experience of women, began with her response to the plight of enslaved Yazidi women and girls. The exhibition grows out of that response, and out of her academic research work (including interviews with women who have experienced modern slavery) on survival, endurance and recovery. She focussed on these issues during her 2019 residency at King’s College, London, based within the Institue of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), in partnership with Dr Sian Oram and the Helen Bamber Foundation.
The Lady Chapel is a fitting space for a body of work exploring vulnerability, violence and resilience in the female body. It is dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary, yet shows in its stone sculpture all the scars and damage of the Reformation iconoclasts, who left almost no image of the human body within it undamaged.
Shamma’s paintings ponder that same combination of vulnerablility, violence and resilience from survivors’ perspectives. The exhibition (coinciding with Anti-Slavery Day on 18 October) draws attention, through a series of large-scale paintings and oil sketches, to the global issue of modern slavery and the millions of people caught up in it.
Entry with Cathedral visitor ticket or pass.
Artist Sara Shamma will give a talk about the exhibition prior to its opening on Wednesday 6 October at 6.30pm in the Cathedral.