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One Day Changes

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A new collection of artwork bought by the University is about to be launched as a digital exhibition.

The series of 24 photographs and a film – called One Day Changes – were taken by two photojournalists to depict the impacts of war and life in refugee camps in Iraq and Syria.

Ako Ismail from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and Shahor Omar from Kirkuk in Iraq, created the images as part of their work as photojournalists in the Middle East.

Artists discussing their collection of photographs
Artists discussing their collection of photographs

The collection’s title – One Day Changes – refers to how war can turn ordinary, everyday lives into something unrecognisable in just one day. 

Their evocative black and white images show the devastation brought by war, but there is also a message of hope and peace in their work. 

Shahor said:

We focus on the children because they are a symbol of hope. We show the love in the refugee camp and the signs of affection that you would never normally see in public.

Ako added: “Even from war we want to show the positive stories, we don’t want it all to be negative.

“It can happen anywhere, even in Europe as we are now seeing in Ukraine, and it is a matter for all of humanity.” 

Ako now lives in South Shields while Shahor lives in Stockton. Both are associate artists for Newcastle-based Skimstone Arts, who originally commissioned and curated their work.

The collection is now a permanent part of Durham University’s art collection. They will be available to generations of students, staff, school children and visitors to engage with through our teaching, research learning and exhibitions programmes.

Professor Simon James, chair of Durham University’s acquisitions panel, said: “This important acquisition of work by two outstanding photojournalists and artists will build upon and strengthen our collections, and reflect their creators’ lived experience.”  

Artistic Director Claire Webster-Saaremets at Skimstone, said: “Durham University has given us a strong platform to take this work to a much wider audience and we want people to think ‘what does it mean to hear these stories and what do we want to do about it?’.

We want to create art that literally changes the world.

One Day Changes is being shown in a digital exhibition launching this month, with a physical exhibition this summer. This follows a successful display of the collection at St John’s College in May last year. 

Keep an eye on the DU Hub for a link to the digital exhibition.



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