In 2020 a group of refugees and asylum seekers worked together with Firstsite staff and Refugee Action Colchester to curate ‘My name is not Refugee’, an exhibition of artworks that includes pieces from the Arts Council Collection.
‘My name is not Refugee’ is the fourth exhibition by Firstsite as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme, which will continue into 2022.
Alongside the exhibition, the group of curators worked with poet Laila Sumpton to write poetry in response to the artworks that were chosen.
The following two poems were written my members of the group in response to ‘Prayer Meeting in Windermere’ (1992) by John Kippin.
By Münevver Gülsen Ülker
I see the beauty of the nature
I hear the voice of rustles of trees
I smell the green grasses
I taste the freshness of the air
I feel divine spirit with devotion
Who pictured this artwork ?
What was the interesting point to be pictured by the photographer?
Where pictured this piece of art work I wonder ?
When would it be taken this photo?
This artwork remind me a very nice memory which was in the Castle Park in Colchester as a community an Eid morning brought all of us to be devoted in the same spirit,
I see the beauty of nature-
where is this mountain, this lake?
I hear the voices of rustling trees.
Can I get there?
I smell the green grass
I taste the freshness of air
far from roads and towers.
I feel a divine spirit
and fill with devotion
Who saw these prayers?
What made them stop
and capture them forever?
When were they praying?
Was it the same Eid morning
when I was in the Castle Park?
We gathered as brothers and sisters
one Eid morning all together
devoted in the same spirit.
The women inhabit the English countryside in sharp relief
Their laundered purity inhabits the air with the rhythmic humming of their prayers.
Who are these women who invade me with a happiness that makes my hairs stand on end?
They create their own landscape of unity in a world of seasons and change
It seems clear why they are here
But where did they come from?
Does it matter?
I thank them for the memories
Of family pinics,
Crisp dresses made with love,
First holy Communion and church processions
And join with them in the intonation of their prayers
Image: ‘Prayer Meeting in Windermere’ (1992) by John Kippin. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © the artist.