Today is World Refugee Day. In the midst of the pro-Brexit rhetoric surrounding the global refugee crisis and the use of refugees as bargaining chips by countries like Turkey, take a minute to consider the human impact of the crisis. 65 million people are currently displaced worldwide. Yet somehow, despite this shocking figure, it is easy to forget the people behind the statistics.
Hannah Rose Thomas is a 24-year-old British artist who is trying to remind people that many of these refugees lived ordinary lives in ordinary homes with their ordinary families, some as recently as just months ago, before war turned their worlds upside down. She has worked with Syrian refugees in Jordan and has volunteered in the Calais ‘jungle’, painting the portraits of those she has encountered.
Her exhibition, ‘The Divine Image: For Mercy Has a Human Heart’, is testimony to her kindness and desperation to help those fleeing war, violence and poverty. She uses her undeniable talent and boundless compassion to convey the heartbreak of war in the faces of her subjects. The exhibition also features the artwork of Syrian children living in refugee camps in Jordan.
Not only are her portraits stunningly beautiful, but they remind their audience of the importance of remembering the men, women and children behind the statistics. They remind us that we have a duty, as human beings, to show compassion towards, and to recognise ourselves in these people.
Hannah has worked on art projects with the UN, The Hummingbird Project and The Worldwide Tribe in Europe and the Middle East. She is currently planning a trip to Kurdistan to run art projects with Yazidi women and girls who have escaped from ISIS. Her exhibition will be running until Wednesday 22nd June at the Crypt Gallery, St. Pancras.