Creative Associates - image from the Creative Recovery project, credit: Carey Marks

Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who fled conflict and other adversities in their homelands are facing challenging times here in the UK as they are trying to integrate and build a new life. 

Being uprooted from your home and community is not easy especially when you are faced with new struggles in life around navigating the UK Migration System, searching for adequate housing and most importantly, defining who you are again in this world.

Creative Recovery shows the narrative that the media misses from war-torn countries and others suffering from conflict. A narrative that visually represents cultures and people from across the world and how they feel it is appropriate to represent their homes and homelands. Through maps, photographs and 3D models, the project aimed to answer important and challenging questions like: Where is home? And, What is home to you? These questions were amplified for all those who have crossed the borders into Europe from the Middle East and Africa in recent years. While such questions have dominated anthropological and sociological research, it has rarely been answered visually and spatially.

Creative Recovery: Mapping Refugees’ Memories of Home as Heritage. A project with Sana Murrani and Carey Marks, funded through the Sustainable Earth Institute Creative Associate Awards.

Funded by the European Cultural Foundation and in partnership with the British Red Cross, Associate Professor Dr Sana Murrani worked alongside photojournalist Carey Marks with 12 refugees and asylum seekers in the south west of England on a participatory action research project that visualises the meaning of ‘home’ for the 12 protagonists. Through a series of nine workshops over nine months, the team mapped familiar journeys participants took as part of their everyday life in their homelands.

These journeys were overlayed with old photographs and personal items while Carey was photographing the participants to show that they are more than just ‘refugees’. The work was exhibited as part of Refugee Week 2019 and appeared on BBC Spotlight South West as well as on local radio channels.

Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Associates - Creative Recovery project - participant
Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Recovery - project participant
Creative Associates - Creative recovery project - participant
Creative Associates - Creative Recovery project - participant
Creative Associate - Creative Recovery project - participant
Participants fed back that they felt the project was the start of a development of personhood and enabled them to start building up their identity. Many went on from the project into higher education, jobs, and also to take part in further interviews around the topic.  
The project attracted the attention of the media …and was also promoted on the National Refugee Week website and the Refugee Council website.

It had quite a significant impact on the way my research was developing, the network I started being in contact with, and the people that all of a sudden became incredibly interested."

Dr Sana Murrani

Read about the impacts the project has had since being completed
Carey Marks Photography

Carey Marks Photography

Carey Marks is a portrait, research and documentary photographer who has a passionate interest in portraits and photo-journalism: particularly 'communities and people in context'. He is also an established art director and graphic designer, with over twenty years experience in London and the US.

His recent work for the University of Plymouth's Jali Ardhi, or ‘care for the land’ project, has been featured in the Guardian, and he has developed branding for Vivienne Westwood’s 'MAN', designed invitations for her Majesty the Queen, and designed various campaigns for organisations such as the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, Channel 4 Sitcom Comedy Festival and the London Underground.

Read more about Carey on his website

Creative Associates

The Sustainable Earth Institute's Creative Associates projects aim to explore novel and innovative ways of communicating research and develop a portfolio of case studies of the different creative approaches possible.

Find out more about the initiatives
Patient at Krygyz Research Institute of Balneology and
Recovery Treatment. Interestingly, it doesn’t take much to move people from the
formal expressions in portraits into a much warmer mood. Image: Carey Marks

Image: Carey Marks/Creative Associates

Sustainable Earth Institute 

The Sustainable Earth Institute is about promoting a new way of thinking about the future of our world.

We bring researchers together with businesses, community groups and individuals to develop cutting-edge research and innovative approaches that build resilience to global challenges. 

We link diverse research areas across the University including science, engineering, arts, humanities, health and business.

Find out more about the institute

Baobab tree in Madagascar