A new exhibition capturing rare images of the Yemeni community in the West Midlands is to go on display at mac birmingham next year.
Little Yemen is a collection of photographs taken by Warwick-based British Yemeni photographer Sonia Audhali which she intends to serve as a legacy to her own heritage and for future generations.
When she began this project Audhali found that, although Yemeni people have been settled in the UK since the 1860s, Birmingham Libraries and Archives held only one box of around 20 images relating to that community in the West Midlands – all depicting Eid celebrations from the 1970s.
With no real record of this community or how they formed, Audhali’s work comes at an opportune time: Generations of migrant Yemenis and members of the community native to the UK, in areas such as Sandwell in the Black Country and Hatton in Warwickshire, are converging. As the ageing population of migrant Yemenis diminshes, Audhali is aware that so in turn do the chances to capture this particular perspective.
The photographs shown in Little Yemen show life in the home, at work, during prayer and at leisure and capture the importance of food, religion and social gathering.
Whilst producing the work for the exhibition, Audhali conducted interviews with elderly members of the community in order to get a better sense of the past, and their stories are reflected in the range of images presented in Little Yemen. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, which contains the photographs from the exhibition.
Craig Ashley, Visual Arts Producer at mac birmingham said: “As a British Yemeni born and raised in England, Sonia Audhali’s photographs exhibit not only an image of one nation and its culture integrating with another, but also a trace of autobiography. Her identity as both British and Yemeni instinctively influences her approach to capturing a dual heritage of which there is little in the way of published and public evidence in the UK.”
Sonia Audhali added: “Creating a legacy is important to me. I hope my work will help generations upon generations to remember where they came from. Despite the challenges it faces today, Yemen is a truly remarkable place. ‘Little Yemen’, my term for the Yemeni community in the West Midlands, is remarkable too – for its people, its heritage and its contribution to a vibrant and culture-rich region of Britain.”
Little Yemen is the latest photography exhibition at mac birmingham to explore the themes of dual heritage and migrant cultures, captured from the perspective of photographers working within their own community.
Sonia Audhali – Little Yemen
Sat 9 Feb – Sun 14 Apr 2013
Cannon Hill Park
Birmingham B12 9QH