Photographer and anthropologist Liz Hingley has collaborated with Syrian individuals who have recently been welcomed to Coventry on a unique UN programme.
Hingley employs crafts of the past from both Syria and Coventry to shed light on the future of the fastest growing city in the UK. Referencing the historic practice of presenting honoured visitors with symbolic keys to the city gates, here the sim card given to refugees on landing in the UK appears as the contemporary key to the city. The mobile phone sim card offers a direct link to scattered loved ones and an archive of photographic memories. As an object and tool it offers an immediate sense of security, identity and home in a new city. Presented within an immersive installation, keys from the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum’s collections represent the city’s eclectic history alongside illuminated images of silver sim cards portraying messages from Syrian individuals to their new city.
Interlacing archival collections of this medieval city and fundamental symbols of contemporary digital life, this work explores how stories and skills from Syria translate and transform in the new contexts. The exhibition opens on the 30th November 2017 and continues until 11th February 2018. This project was commissioned by GRAIN Projects and is generously supported by Arts Council England, Rubery Owen Trust, Coventry University and Herbert Art Gallery. Enormous thanks is also owed to Coventry City Council, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre and the participants in the project.