Photomontage: case study

Arab artists in schools project

Arab world education programme

The school

Turves Green Girls’ School (Birmingham) is a comprehensive and specialist technology college for ages 11-18.

Artist Saeed Taji Farouky with students at Turves Green school

The artist

Saeed Taji Farouky is a British-Palestinian photographer, writer and documentary filmmaker, who specialises in human rights and social justice in the Middle East and North Africa.

The project

Saeed Farouky worked with a group of Year 9 students over six sessions. The students visited Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to explore Arab  culture and their own identities through photography and the collections.

Students viewed Saeed’s work, and learnt about his family history. He showed how his family used to dress in smart Western suits and drove expensive cars, contrary to the image many would have of Arab people in the 1930s.

Students were asked to create self-portraits, incorporating photographs taken in their local environment with mementos and souvenirs from an imaginary journey through the Middle East. The resulting David Hockney-style photomontages incorporated the students’ own photography alongside mass media images and mixed media artwork.

Outcomes

The project raised many issues about the Arab world and the students’ own environment. It also generated some important discussions about the urban environment in the Middle East, racism and Islamophobia.

“[The students] were shy about voicing their initial ideas or impressions … Without a doubt, students have increased their knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. [They] have learnt about art in the context of a different culture, and Saeed has enabled them to make connections and comparisons with art from their own culture.” - Sarah Barton, Head of Art