Skip to main content

27 November 2019

Visitors reflect that exhibition on modern slavery demonstrates the power of art in creating empathy

The exhibition was the culmination of a King’s Artists residency by Sara Shamma, exploring the impact and recovery from modern slavery.

Two people looking at a series of portraits painted by Sara Shamma
Sara Shamma: Modern Slavery, 2019. Photo by Oleg Kungurov. Image courtesy of the artist

Visitors to Sara Shamma: Modern Slavery have praised the exhibition as demonstrating the value of art in creating empathy, and ability of art to raise awareness of important issues. One visitor commented that the exhibition highlights the 'importance of academic and art collaborations'.

Sara Shamma: Modern Slavery (1 October–22 November 2019) drew attention to the pressing global issue of modern slavery through a series of portraits by one of Syria’s most celebrated artists, Sara Shamma

I was overwhelmed both emotionally and by the artistic experience of this exhibition. Everyone should know about and if possible see Sara’s exhibition and reflect on what lies behind it. Thank you King’s for hosting this work.

visitor comment

I have never really thought about the issue of modern slavery but once I entered this exhibition, I got to think about it once more and in a much more deeper sense.

visitor comment

One of the best shows I have seen in a long time.

visitor comment

The exhibition was the culmination of Sara Shamma's King’s Artists residency in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), where the artist worked in collaboration with Dr Siân Oram, Lecturer in Women's Mental Health, to examine the psychological impact of modern slavery.

The residency was inspired by Shamma's experience of hearing about women and girls who have been kidnapped by ISIS in Syria and Iraq and displayed in slave markets. Shamma worked with Dr Oram and the Helen Bamber Foundation to interview survivors of modern slavery before producing a new series of portraits to bring her artistic perspective to this pressing modern challenge. Data generated from the residency will also feed into Dr Oram’s research and will inform existing projects aimed at reducing the risk and impact of violence against women.

The accompanying events programme included a panel discussion on the topic of human trafficking in conjunction with the Women in Mind series, a symposium as part of the ESRC Festival examining the latest findings, methods and ideas about understanding modern slavery, as well as an in conversation event with Shamma and Soriano discussing the artist's work and the exhibition.

The exhibition was supported by a team of gallery supervisors who engaged with visitors and gathered feedback about their experiences, with King’s students accounting for almost 50% of the total audience.

The majority of visitors rated the exhibition as 'excellent', with many saying that it enhanced their understanding of modern slavery. One medical student said they found the exhibition 'thought provoking' and that they hoped to read more about the IoPPN's research on the subject.





In this story

sian bwcropped

Reader in Women’s Mental Health


Sara Shamma: Modern Slavery

An exhibition at the Arcade in Bush House drawing attention to the issues of human trafficking.