The Place I Call Home is a touring exhibition that will be arriving at Copeland Gallery on 11th March, and open to the public until the 21st. We spoke to David Drake; curator of The Place I Call Home, and director of FFotogallery.

What is The Place I Call Home?

The culmination of my two-year research and development project working across the six Arab Gulf countries and the UK. The exhibition features work by 15 photographers and artists from the Arab world and UK, exploring the theme of ‘home’ through stories of culture and heritage which challenge stereotypes and shed light on differences and commonalities. The exhibition has a particular focus on the lives, experiences and opportunities for young people in a dynamic and fast changing world where people are more mobile and globally connected than ever before.

Who curated the exhibition?

I was commissioned by the British Council to curate and deliver the project, including both the touring exhibition and accompanying publications and public engagement work.

What is Ffotogallery?

I’m Director of Ffotogallery, the national photography agency for Wales, now in our 42nd year. Since its formation in 1978, Ffotogallery has been at the forefront of new developments in photography and lens-based media in Wales and internationally, encouraging public understanding of and deeper engagement with photography and its value to society.

Which artists will be exhibiting?

The exhibition features film, photography and artist bookworks by Ben Soedira (UK/UAE), Zahed Sultan (Kuwait/UK), Hassan Meer (Oman), Eman Ali (Oman/UK), Sara Al Obaidly (UK/Qatar), Mashael Al Hejazi (Qatar), Moath Alofi (Saudi Arabia), Mohammed Al-Kouh (Kuwait), Hussain Almosawi & Mariam Alarab (Bahrain), Ammar Al-Attar (United Arab Emirates), Abi Green (Qatar/UK), Sebastian Betancur-Montoya (Qatar/Colombia), Gillian Robertson (UK/UAE), Josh Adam Jones (UK/Oman) and Richard Allenby-Pratt (UK/UAE).

How did you find the artists?

Many were selected from an Open Call in 2019 and commissioned to make new work responding to the three curatorial themes of Placemaking, Interculturalism and Citizenship. On my scoping visits to the Gulf, I also met Arab artists whose work resonated with my curatorial concerns and brought them into the project. It was important that all seven countries were represented, and there was a balance of gender, emergent and established artists, and a range of photographic and lens-based practices.

It is a touring exhibition. Where else have you been, and where will you be going next?

Three different editions of the exhibition have been touring to 10 venues in seven countries between September 2019 and March 2020, and already it has been shown in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Edinburgh, Derby and Cardiff. London is the last ‘official’ exhibition, but there are plans to tour the exhibition to Jeddah and Madina in Saudi Arabia.

What is the aim of the exhibition?

The exhibition content and accompanying public programme aim to stimulate an intercultural dialogue focusing on shared history and culture, a debate which is future facing and globally oriented showing how the world is changing and the new opportunities that presents for young people in the Gulf and UK. The ubiquity of visual culture in contemporary society also underpins the curatorial approach to this project. Forms of visual culture are now readily accessible through the exponential growth in digital and mobile telephone technologies. This creates an opportunity to engage a generation highly active on Instagram and other photography-based social media platforms in a conversation about what it means to live in an increasingly digital and globally connected world.

What does Home mean to you?

For me ‘home’ isn’t so much a specific place as a sense of rootedness and contentment I get from friends, loved ones and the things that nourish me, such as books, music and good company. I had a father from Detroit, a mother from South Wales, and spent my formative years in London before moving West. My diverse and nomadic career in the arts and media has taken me all over the world, and as much as I enjoy travelling and experiencing new things, I like the idea of coming home.

Why did you choose Copeland Gallery as your exhibition venue?

Peckham is a vibrant, multicultural community and I felt the Copeland Gallery had exactly the right vibe for the London edition of The Place I Call Home.

How can people follow the exhibition’s progress?

The project website is but it’s also worth checking out @ffotogallery our instagram feed.