Behind Closed Doors Press Release

Poulomi Desai

Thursday 2 October 2003

Official Press Release – Barnado’s Phoenix Project / media moguls.

A candid exhibition in collaboration with renowned photographic artist Poulomi Desai, explores Asian Women’s experience of domestic violence.

The exhibition entitled ‘Behind Closed Doors’ has been created by women from Barnado’s Phoenix Project, in partnership with photographer Poulomi Desai. The work starkly depicts the women’s experiences of domestic violence. The collection of photographs and exhibits is the culmination of a series of photography workshops undertaken by the Asian women to encourage development of skills and help them to overcome their experience of domestic violence.

Following the success of the launch last November at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, organisers were inundated with requests to tour the exhibition around the country. They are now bringing their exhibition to London , which will showcase at The Nehru Centre as part of the Tongues on Fire Asian women’s film festival.

Phoenix Project manager Bhaggie Patel has been overwhelmed at the positive response to the exhibition, which features a selection of photographs and a number of exhibits, such as a burnt wedding dress and an iron enclosed in a birdcage, highlighting issues such as suicide and honour killings.

Bhaggie says: “About 25 women took part in the photography workshops over an 18 month period. The workshops were very successful and the images the women produced were so powerful, it was decided to incorporate them into an exhibition.”

It is hoped that there will be a lasting legacy from the exhibition. Bhaggie added: “The exhibition has been designed to be as portable as possible, so we can use it as part of our educational and developmental work to raise awareness and challenge attitudes in order to affect change in policies and practises on domestic violence.”

One of the exhibitors, Mariam ( not her real name) said ” Taking part in the photography project helped me to develop new skills. I learnt how to use a camera, about digital photography, as well as photographic techniques, like lighting. The photography has helped me develop my confidence and I now know that I have the ability to do things for myself. I hope that we can use the exhibition to make sure that what has happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else. Hopefully, it will make abusive men think about what they are doing.”

The Phoenix Project is a community development initiative, which works on a proactive basis supporting Asian women, children and young people – especially those experiencing domestic violence – through community development, awareness raising and education.

They offer free and confidential services involving emotional and practical support and advice for Asian women, children and young people. These services include one to one support, group work, advice on legal rights, housing and immigration, residentials, and a variety of healing activities and workshops utilising the arts, outdoor education, conferences, training etc.

It’s this emphasis on encouraging those experiencing domestic violence to get involved in stimulating activities that is effective, empowering and rebuilding self-esteem and confidence, which enables Asian women, children and young people to be socially, economically and politically active within the community.

For more information and to book this exhibition contact the Phoenix Project : 01204 848966.