Nick Haswell and Fath E Mubeen
With the busy year of 2021 coming to a close and Christmas just around the corner, the Drawing Together Tampere team hosted a social gathering for our Tampere-based participants at the home of our project manager, Mervi. Despite the ever-present spectre of COVID and an active flu season, we managed to get most of our participants and Team members safely together.
Sharing home-cooked food and mulled wine, the gathering was a chance not only to share in the joy of the festive season and catch up on recent events in our participants’ lives (one man, for example, told us he had graduated that very day from his studies); it was also a chance to reflect on where we had come as part of this international project, and the activities that still lay before us. The year of COVID had thrown all kinds of challenges to our project in Finland, yet even more so in Norway and Scotland. Looking back, we feel lucky, here in Finland, to have been able to accomplish almost all of what we’d planned.
Throughout the spring we were able to complete the first series of individual and paired interviews face-to-face. In August we were able to hold our second art workshop in-person, at the Perhetalo Heideken centre in Turku. For those unable to make it to the main workshop, we were able to arrange smaller follow-up workshops. Then, through the autumn we have been able to carry on with the second round of individual and paired interviews; a process that will carry on into the new year.
Looking ahead, we are hoping that the COVID situation allows us to run our third workshop, scheduled for early spring, in-person as well; a hope we extend to our colleagues in Norway and Scotland. Beyond this, and beyond the final round of interviews and the analysis phase that follows, we look forward to the Drawing Together Project’s grand exhibition finale, and hope that this, too, may be held as planned. The exhibition will showcase the artworks and stories of the young refugees who have shared their lives with us along the course of the project, giving us insights into their present situations, their future goals, and in the upcoming third workshop, their past. At our Christmas gathering, as we chatted around the living room table, we felt fortunate to be able to work with such wise and committed participants.