The Looking-GlassAspects of contemporary experience in the UK and the Middle East [Archives:2006/997/Local News]

November 9 2006

SANA'A, Nov 8 ) A new exhibition of work by UK and Yemeni photographers opened on Tuesday at the National Museum in Sana'a. The Looking-Glass is documenting aspects of contemporary Muslim and social experience in the UK and the Middle East. The exhibition remains open for one month. The Looking-Glass opens up a dialogue on identity and the broader aspects of contemporary experience in a post modern world. The three UK and Yemeni photographers have drawn on the personal, private inner fabric of individuals' lives as well as the broader political and social realities of daily existence. Each of the artists involved proposed their own subjects for the exhibition:

Tim Smith's photographs are divided into three series. The first focuses on Muslim communities living in the North of England. The second shows photographs taken from among the Yemeni communities in Newport and Sheffield. The third section is a collection of photographs taken in Yemen in 2005 as part of an ongoing project looking at the the extraordinary history of Yemen as a trading nation, and showing its role as the crossroads between East and West; many of the portraits show Yemenis who have lived and worked in Britain and returned to Yemen.

Bushra al Mutawakkel has produced a series of photographs on aspects of contemporary life in Yemen, showing the interweaving of religion and culture in a collection full of passion, beauty, color, complexity, tension and contradiction.

Clement Cooper has produced a series of black and white portraits of young, hijab-wearing, Muslim schoolgirls living in Manchester, beautifully lit, simple and emotional portraits. He said of this work, 'I'm not trying to document social conditions, but to explore the humanity of my subjects, to understand them as people'.

Some of The Looking-Glass photographs have been featured in the British Council's major Middle East touring exhibition, Common Ground

The photographs will be shown in the new exhibition gallery on the ground floor of the caravanserai in the south wing of the National Museum in Sana'a.

The British Council Yemen is pleased to be working under the auspices and with the co-operation of the Ministry of Culture to open up the channels of creative exchange and dialogue between Britain and Yemen on this occasion.

A Private View on the 7 November is being hosted by Elizabeth White, Director of the British Council, under the auspices of HE Khaled al-Rowaishan, Minister of Culture, and will be attended by Sir David Green KCMG, Director-General of the British Council, and other distinguished guests.