Protestimony at the Edinburgh Fringe

4th August – 24th September 2017

Hari Reed, Research Assistant for Refugee History, took her refugee awareness-raising exhibition Protestimony to the Edinburgh Fringe festival this year. Her organisation IMAGINE constructed six camp-style shelters in a corner of Summerhall, the central Fringe venue for political performance and visual art. These shelters were filled with sculptures, animations, paintings, illustrations, photographs, maps and documentaries created by refugees and volunteers who lived in the Calais camp.

Art Historian Anne Ellis was interviewed by Sally Magnusson on BBC Radio Scotland about the exhibition.

Sally Magnusson: You’ve seen this exhibition at Summerhall, Anne. What did you make of it?

Anne Ellis: Very moving. On the way in, it’s painted, “Do not destroy my hope please.” It’s like all those entrances that you see, “Work makes you free”, or “Abandon hope all ye…” This is another message, because these people have lost their hope. It does portray the filth and the squalor, because it’s untidy and you’re pressed in. Some of the things you see are just horrifying and shock you, and you want to help.

Sally Magnusson: So it keeps, you would say, on the right side of sentimentality, which is always a danger with protest art?

Anne Ellis: Yes. It is always a danger because it’s so overdone, but this has got other elements. You learn about those. But I don’t think they’re being afraid about telling what the horrors are, and I think we have to understand that, because we’re in danger of ignoring them. All these things touch your heart. It says at the end, one little child has written, “I’m going to tell God what they did with us.” It’s just terrible.

Further reviews can be accessed via IMAGINE’s publicity page, at


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