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Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Divine Image

The Divine Image by Hannah Thomas is at St Stephen Walbrook from 9 - 20 January (Mon - Fri, 10.--am - 4.00pm, except Weds, 11.00am - 3.00pm). The opening night reception will be on Monday 9 January from 6.30pm, all are welcome.

Hannah Rose Thomas

Hannah Rose Thomas is a twenty-four year-old British artist and recent Durham graduate in Arabic and History. Hannah has sold her paintings and received commissions since she was eighteen years-old to fund her humanitarian work in Mozambique, Sudan, Madagascar, and, more recently, in Jordan and Calais. Hannah is currently studying an MA at the Prince’s School of Traditional Art in London. Her next art project will be in Kurdistan, to assist with the rehabilitation of abducted young women from the Yazidi community.

This special exhibition collects portrait works undertaken during Hannah’s time in refugee camps in Jordan, where she partnered with UNHCR and Relief International to organise art projects for children in the camps. Her most recent portraits are of refugees she has met while volunteering in the Calais ‘Jungle.’ Hannah’s intimate portraits seek to humanise the individuals forced to flee their homes, whose personal stories are otherwise shrouded by statistics. She draws inspiration from Islamic art and Arabic poetry, to celebrate the rich heritage of the Middle East, so often forgotten and overshadowed by war.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by a verse from William Blake’s poem The Divine Image:

For Mercy has a human heart
Pity, a human face:
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Painting in Refugee Camps in Jordan

In April 2015, Hannah returned to Jordan to organise an art project for Syrian children living in the refugee camps, with the support of Relief International. The first canvas painted in Za’atari camp was an expression of the children’s experience of war. After a number of groups of boys and girls had painted on it, the canvas had become an abstract chaos of splashes of red paint, dark colours and layers of the children’s drawings of tanks, soldiers, dead bodies, planes and destroyed homes. It is a small glimpse of all that the children witnessed in war-torn Syria. However, many of the children confessed to Hannah that they did not want to think about or paint the war any more. Therefore the second canvas painted with the children was a vibrant expression of their memories of Syria. It was inspired by Islamic art and arabesque design, to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Middle East, so often forgotten and overshadowed by war. After a couple of days at Za’atari, the art project moved to Azraq refugee camp, in the midst of a desolate desert wasteland on the Saudi and Iraqi border. The two canvases painted in Azraq are a reflection of the children’s daily life in the refugee camp. Hannah also painted a mural on one of the new school caravans.

The Dairy of a Girl Away From Home

This is a tapestry created from paintings by Syrian girls living in Za’atari Camp this April. The most common image they painted was home, highlighting their longing for the war to end so that they can return to Syria. The Arabic poem is by a Syrian girl named Fatimah about her beloved home:

Take care of my house,
I left in it feelings of safety and security.
Don’t mess with my closet,
It has my clothes drenched with the smell of memories that no one else knows
And pieces of paper that have no value except to myself.
Don’t lift my pillow,
I hid under it my tears in times of sadness
And creatively created many dreams.
Don’t change the order of the books on my bookshelf,
On their pages notes I have written that no one will understand like I do.
As for my desk, don’t touch it,
But leave it with the mess I make while I study.
Please keep my traces in my beloved home,
I will be reunited with it soon.

Christian Aid: Syria Crisis Appeal

Five years of conflict has had devastating effects on the people of Syria. The situation is shocking. Half the country is displaced and more than 4.6 million people are now refugees. More than 400,000 people have been killed. Christian Aid is working with Syrians in Lebanon and Iraq, providing support to some of the most vulnerable refugees, including women who have experienced gender-based violence, and those with disabilities.

Six-year-old Hammoudi was born in Damascus with complex physical and mental disabilities. He was given two life-saving operations by the Syrian health service, but his third operation was cancelled when violence overtook the country. More than one in five refugees suffer from some form of impairment, whether from birth, illness, accident, or a conflict-related injury. Syrian refugees with disabilities often can't get the care they need. Now, with the help of donations to Christian Aid and the work of their partner, Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union (LPHU), Hammoudi has learned to walk for the first time.

Layan is a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. Sadly, like many Syrian women, she's a victim of domestic violence. During times of conflict, women and girls are at greater risk of sexual and domestic violence. Layan now regularly visits Kafa, a Lebanese organisation that supports women who have experienced, or are at risk of violence. She said: 'Kafa helped me to get out of the awful situation I was in. I feel that there are people who care and worry about me.' Kafa successfully helped to lobby the Lebanese government to pass a law criminalising domestic violence. The law also applies to Syrian refugees.

These are the kind of people and situations that your donations to Christian Aid’s Syria Crisis Appeal can help to address. Please donate using the red Emergency Appeal envelopes or go to

Capital Mass: Diocese of London Refugee Response

Capital Mass aims to engage and support every parish in the Diocese of London in tackling poverty and inequality. The Diocese of London commissioned Capital Mass through the awarding of a grant, to co-ordinate and draw together local and diocesan wide responses into the immediate and long term needs caused by and brought to our attention through, the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

See for details of how you can respond.

Prayers in the midst of the refugee crisis

Wilderness God, your Son was a displaced person in Bethlehem, a refugee in Egypt, and had nowhere to lay his head in Galilee. Bless all who have nowhere to lay their head today, who find themselves strangers on earth, pilgrims to they know not where, facing rejection, closed doors, suspicion and fear. Give them companions in their distress, hope in their wandering, and safe lodging at their journey’s end. And make us a people of grace, wisdom and hospitality, who know that our true identity is to be lost, until we find our eternal home in you. Through Christ our rejected yet risen Lord. Amen

Heavenly Father, you are the source of all goodness, generosity and love. We thank you for opening the hearts of many to those who are fleeing for their lives. Help us now to open our arms in welcome, and reach out our hands in support. That the desperate may find new hope, and lives torn apart be restored. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son, Our Lord, who fled persecution at His birth and at His last triumphed over death. Amen


Martin Smith - You Have Shown Us.

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