Our Ambassador of the Week is Hannah Rose Thomas, a young artist and humanitarian based in the UK.
To mark World Refugee Day on 20th June, One Young World was proud to host an evening reception and private viewing of her artwork and portraits undertaken during her time in Za’atari and Calais refugee camps. The 40-piece exhibition depicted portraits of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. Her show was held in The Crypt Gallery at St. Pancras Church, a space which resonated with the depth of her work. The show was supported by arts-based social enterprise, Hothi & Othi, co-led by One Young World Ambassador, Indy Hothi.
Over the past three years, Hannah has traveled to refugee camps, hearing the courageous and heartbreaking first-hand experiences of those affected by the war in Syria. Whilst in Jordan, she partnered with UNHCR and Relief International, and coordinated art projects with men, women, and children living in the camps. She used recycled refugee tents as canvasses, which allowed those of all ages to artistically express themselves. This therapeutic and cathartic experience allowed them to feel a collective sense of liberation and relief whilst processing the trauma of their ordeals.
Three of these tents were shown in an exhibition in Amman to observe World Refugee Day in 2014, and in London in 2015.
Whilst giving these children an outlet in a tense political climate, Hannah painted portraits of refugees with the aim of sharing their stories and cultivating a sense of shared humanity that is often lost in such global crises. To support her humanitarian work, she has sold her paintings and received commissions.
Hannah's work is a testament to her deep interest in the cultural heritage of Middle Eastern societies that is easily overshadowed by the growing conflict in the region. Last year, she graduated from Durham University with a degree in Arabic and History, and will resume her studies in the fall, pursuing a Masters degree at the Prince's School of Traditional Art in London. She is already planning her next project in Kurdistan, where she hopes to use her artistic method in rehabilitating young Yezidi women abducted by ISIS.
You can watch Hannah's appearance on SKY News here.