Tucked away in a building that looks pretty run down just outside of Birmingham, lies a community cafe called the ‘Ort Cafe’. Step into the entrance and head up some stairs and you will find yourself in a hidden gem of a community art gallery called ‘Ort Gallery’.
I’ve lived in Birmingham since 2001 but I have never truly explored Birmingham. I saw on Facebook a gallery exhibition based in the Ort Gallery, which focused on six female photographers and their pictures taken in the Middle East. With a rare Friday off work, I headed there with a friend.
There were not many photo pieces in the exhibition but all were carefully selected with the stories behind the pictures clearly set out beside the piece. From looking at the ‘drag queen scene’ in the Middle East to mothers holding pictures of their sons lost in the Iran-Iraq war to then seeing photos of innocent young children with their limbs missing due to bombs, this was one of the first exhibitions that really made me think in a long time. It also showed the inequality that women still face in some Middle East countries.
I came out of the gallery wanting to make a difference because, despite everything that is currently happening in this country, I can not comprehend how the world can sit by and watch things like young children losing their whole family due to war. I know this country isn’t the best that it can be. The divide between rich and poor is still huge. People are dying every day due to lack of support. Young people are living in poverty. Just because our country isn’t the best that it can be, doesn’t mean that we should turn our backs on other countries. I agree we should ‘help our own’ but isn’t the ‘own’ humanity? When did it become about a nationality?
I’ve joined a political party. I’m not sure whether that will give me what I need to instigate a change. By going to the gallery exhibition, by spreading the word and continuing to raise awareness, perhaps that’s just a little step. But a step all the time.