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River of Light 2017

News: Feb 09, 2017

River of Light workshop, Valand Acadmey. Photograph by Behjat Omer Abdulla.

Valand Academy invites everyone to create their own lanterns during workshops under sportlovsveckan. No special skills are needed. Materials are available on site and our workshops are free.

River of Light
is a project that puts focus on children’s rights. The project was initiated for the first time by artist Behjat Omer Abdulla in 2016 to mark the 150th anniversary of Valand Academy, at which time it had around 150 participants. Behjat Omer Abdulla is an MFA graduate of Valand Academy and is the Artistic Director of the project. Owing to current conditions and to great interest from last year, we see the importance of continuing the project and its focus on children’s rights. The project begins with a series of lantern making workshops that are open to the public and culminates with a lantern procession in Gothenburg on the United Nation’s World Day of Social Justice on February 20, 2017.

An important aspect of River of Light is its lantern making workshops that serve as meeting points for new arrivals and Swedes in Gothenburg. It serves as a space where everyone including students, unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers, and families can be creative as well as socialize and share stories.

For one of the participants, Hadi Irandoost, the project is greater than a meeting. “It really is a river of light. A river of light in deep darkness to make us aware about children’s rights all around the world,” he shares.

“Gothenburg is among the cities that has received the highest number of unaccompanied children. We should see this situation as something positive for society and for the future of Sweden,” says Denise Langridge Mellion, who is the Project Coordinator of River of Light and works as Project Leader for Broadening Recruitment at Valand Academy.

“The lantern making can be a starting point for communication, mixing people and through the process of making, creating a dialogue between different Swedish communities outside of their own spaces,” shares Behjat Omer Abdulla.

A key inspiration for the project has been the children's book Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) by author Salman Rushdie. The allegorical story can be read as a defense for free speech, importance of imagination, and meaningful exchange. One of the lanterns created by participants this year is a boat with six figures. It is made in memory of all the children who have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

River of Light has expanded this year with workshops not only at Valand Academy but also at Angereds Gymnasium and Restad Gård, Vänersborg, Sweden's biggest asylum accommodation. Many students from Valand Academy and HDK – Academy of Crafts and Design and international artists are engaged in the project. River of Light has also partnered with B-Arts Staffordshire and A Bunda Samba Band and is financially supported by Göteborgs Stad.

Upcoming workshop dates:

February 11-16, every day from 10:00-17:00 at Valand Academy, Vasagatan 50
All are welcome and our workshops are free.

Procession: Monday, February 20, 2017
16:30: Gather at Valand Academy yard (entrance Chalmersgatan 4) to light lanterns.
17:00-18:30: Walk along the avenue to Gustav Adolf’s Torg and back to Valand Academy. 15 members of the A Bunda Samba Band will provide music for the procession.
18:30: Soup, bread and celebration.

For more info about the project, see:

Denise Langridge Mellion
Project Leader for Broadening Recruitment at Valand Academy
E-mail: denise.mellion@akademinvaland.gu.se

Behjat Omer Abdulla, Artistic Director, River of Light
E-mail: behjatoa@gmail.com

River of Light e-mail: riveroflight20@gmail.com

River of Light workshop, Restad Gård, Vänersborg. Photograph by Mary Coble.


Page Manager: Paulin Nande|Last update: 1/14/2013

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