Outside In’s Campaign To Bring Artwork From Gaza To Chichester

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During May 2018 national arts charity Outside In will be running a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to bring the work of Palestinian artist Laila Kassab from Gaza to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, UK.

If successful, the commissioned artworks will be exhibited at Pallant House Gallery from 13 June to 29 July 2018 as part of the exhibition ‘Colliding Worlds: Scottie Wilson’, alongside works by renowned Outsider Artist Scottie Wilson drawn from the Gallery’s collection.

Through an open call in 2017, Outside In and Pallant House Gallery offered an exciting opportunity for artists to submit proposals in response to the artwork of Scottie Wilson. Contemporary artist Greg Bromley, a social worker from Yorkshire, was awarded the commission, but due to the high quality of Laila Kassab’s proposal, and the unique opportunity at stake, it was decided to offer a second commission.

With Laila unable to leave Gaza, Outside In is now appealing to the public to raise the funds needed to safely transport her work for exhibition alongside world renowned artists at Pallant House Gallery. Running for one month, the #fundlaila campaign aims to raise £5000 and offers exclusive rewards to donors including portrait commissions and limited edition prints for donations from £5.

As a national campaign both organisations hope to inspire donors to give generously in an effort to raise the profile of an artist who is facing constant uncertainty in a site of continued conflict.

Laila Kassab said “Scottie and I share the urge to express our art in the face of a life of poverty, personal hardship and painful memories of war…I feel that I am expressing myself on behalf of all the Palestinians lacking freedom to express their repressed feelings and their rejected dreams, and who are being forbidden from being with their families and friends.

Paying tribute to Scottie’s art, I will draw the commissioned paintings in bright and warm colours combined with each other to create bold paintings full of lines and curves, symbols and secrets. I will use flora, fish, birds, animals, and other creatures, possibly merging with faces, symbolising freedom, oppression, despair and hope.” 

Laila Kassab is a self-taught artist, creating beautifully colourful artworks reflecting her life experiences. For Laila, her life in Gaza did not provide her with what she needed to pursue a career as an artist. She grew up in a poor family in inadequate living conditions and felt that the events surrounding her led her to she calls ‘a dismal life’.

It was through art that she was able to transform her sadness into creativity.  Using charcoal to draw directly onto the walls of her home, she was able to express her feelings inside and turn unhappiness into hope for herself and those around her.

Based in the Yibna Refugee Camp in Rafah, in the South of the Gaza Strip, Laila became part of the Islington Friends of Yibna, a small London-based group aiming to forge links with Palestinians in Laila’s region. In 2010, the group received a bundle of paintings from Laila, smuggled out of Gaza covered with only thin layers of protective material made of food packaging.

The group have included Laila’s artwork in small exhibitions including “Who can sleep in Gaza?” (2014) and “Art under Siege” (2017) but felt that the scale of their exhibitions were not doing justice to her exceptional artistic talent and that her work needed to be seen by a much wider audience.

To support or follow the #fundlaila campaign’s progress, visit
www.crowdfunder.co.uk/bring-laila-kassabs-artwork-to-the-uk.

‘Colliding Worlds: Scottie Wilson’ will be on display from 2 May to 29 July 2018. New work by Greg Bromley will be on display from 2 May to 10 June 2018 and, if the campaign is successful, new pieces by Laila Kassab will be shown from 13 June to 29 July 2018. The commission is funded by The John Booth Charitable Foundation.

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