Lucy Wood – Distant Neighbours

Exhibition: 17 March – 18 May 2017

Free in The Gallery, 11:00 – 17:00

Distant Neighbours is the fifth instalment of British artist Lucy Wood’s ongoing project series which documents global migration and its effects on the individual through their social, political and environmental entrapment. Tyneside Cinema has commissioned Lucy Wood to make a new film reflecting on the link between climate change and migration.

Filmed on location in the Al Zaatari refugee camp and the city of Amman, Jordan, a film of the journey of a vegetable seller around the camp and five – testimonies document the experience of Syrian farmers and agricultural workers. The testimonies highlight the effects of drought in Syria from 2006-2011, a consequence of climate change. Informed by the influential research by Dr Colin P Kelly: Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought, the resulting exhibition draws on this research collecting first-hand accounts of the implications of climate change in Syria, which is part of the area known as the Fertile Crescent, a large region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid areas which encompass parts of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, the State of Palestine, Egypt, as well as the southeastern fringe of Turkey and the western fringes of Iran.

The lasting effects of climate change on this important geological region is investigated through documentary first-hand accounts uncovering the journeys and stories of Syrian farmers and their families who now live and work in Jordan. Due to their farms locations and distance away from nearby rivers meant it was impossible to farm the rural areas when crops were failing and in some cases due to the Syrian government’s management of agricultural land which added to the depletion of natural resources and fertile farmland. In turn this exacerbated the movement of people from the countryside, to cities such as Aleppo, Damascus, Raqqa and Homs to try and find alternative work. Later they were forced to move over the border to Jordan to escape the conflict in Syria.

The new commission is a central part of the Gimme Shelter: Climate Change, Migration and the Refugee Crisis programme at Tyneside Cinema which aims to inform and spark discussion focused on the urgency of action on climate change as well as its very real connection to the current refugee crisis. The programme of film, events and workshops will help contextualise these issues and cultivate a better understanding of the reasons behind human displacement and will see artist and filmmakers joined by leading experts to discuss the connection between climate change, natural disasters and migration.