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Photographer Celebrates Bristol’s ‘Extraordinary’ Migrants in Exhibit

“Extraordinary” migrant stories have been recorded in an exhibit celebrating a city’s diversity.

The Bristol No Borders Here project was led by Ken Abbott to “counter negative messages” about migrants.

The photographer put a call out to photograph the “vibrancy of migrants” but was surprised by how many wanted to take part.

Participant Yumiko Jones said she hopes people will learn about the “real Japan” via her passion for kimonos.

Ms Jones is a hairdresser and teaches people how to wear kimonos and about the cultural practices behind them.

“Bristol and Japan are both homes for me,” she said.

“I moved here in 2008 to live closer to my husband’s family who live in Gloucester. I love the city life so as a compromise I said I would move to Bristol.

“My hometown Fukuoka is quite compact and has a lot of character, similar to Bristol.

“There’s a lot of trust here and I think people are slowly learning more about Japan and the food we eat.”

Ankita Jain, 31, moved to Bristol in September 2023, after getting an offer to study an MA in screen acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

“I was leading a corporate life in Bangalore in India but then decided I wanted to learn acting from some of the best in the world,” she said.

“There were so many road names in Bristol that were similar to India. I have a Park Street in Calcutta where I studied and a Queens Road in Bangalore.”

She said she felt there was a part of her in every single story in Ken’s exhibition.

“I was truly touched to come to Bristol and see people from other cultures, and mix with them. Reinstall the belief that we are all just one, just humans,” she added.

Romyna Menendez, grew up in Peru, moved to Italy and then moved to Bristol when her Italian husband moved there for work.

“People here always smiled at me and said hi, which was confusing for me and really impacted me,” she said

“I told my mum that people here say thank you to the driver. That made me feel pleased to live here because it’s a positive city.”

Ms Menendez works as a physiotherapist in private and public hospitals and said she often meets people who move here “who don’t speak very good English and feel lonely”.

“I set up a Facebook called Italians and Latinos in Bristol, to connect them. I know how hard it can be as a foreigner anywhere in the world.

“Ken has made an amazing project showing all of the amazing countries in Bristol,” she added.

For his project, Mr Abbott said he specifically chose people who were foreign nationals who had come to Bristol as adults.

“I took them out for a coffee one by one and just listened to their stories, they were all extraordinary” he said.

“They were so positive! Some of of them had bad experiences, but most of them didn’t want to dwell on that.

“I really want to make a difference even if its just to one person. If I can reset people’s views on immigration and influence one person I would feel like I’ve done something worthwhile.”

The exhibition is the first phase of a “much bigger project”, with phase two being a photobook to be published in October.

The No Borders Here exhibition in the Centrespace Gallery, on Corn Street in Bristol, ends on 30 May.

Source : BBC