Doćhas: paintings of hope

Refugee Festival Scotland volunteer Shona McCallum shares her thoughts on Doćhas, a soothing and hope-filled exhibition inspired by the strength and resilience of trafficking survivors.  

Doćhas – An Exhibition of Paintings of Hope, launched on Friday 16 June. This gorgeous exhibition, brought together by Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland (SOHTIS), aims to raise funds and awareness for the charity’s important work.  

Doćhas, which means hope in Gaelic, certainly captures the theme of this year’s festival. On display are paintings by Scottish artist Linda Hoskins, and work from the emerging Stay Seen collective.  

Linda is a collaborator and friend of SOHTIS. Her ethereal, uplifting works focus on light and coastal-inspired scenes. They have a sense of freedom and calm.  

Art which aims to raise awareness of issues like displacement, modern slavery, and injustice can sometimes be visceral. But this can be limiting, and difficult for survivors to see. Linda explained that her goal, is to take the viewer to a happy and soothing place.  

Her work seeks to find the light and hope in survivors’ stories and experiences. She creates paintings which people are happy to display in their homes, with or without immediately knowing what has inspired them. Also on display is work by the Stay Seen Collective, a group of artists founded by Linda, who work in collaboration with SOHTIS.  

SOHTIS was founded by Sir Jack Stewart Clarke and Brigadier Paul Harkness MBE to support and advocate for the survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery in Scotland.  

The group has three main aim. Firstly, providing long-term support to help survivors re-build their lives. Secondly, identifying individuals who are enduring, or at risk of, modern slavery and helping them to escape and recover. And thirdly, campaigning for better protections, rights and entitlements for survivors and those at risk.  

SOHTIS has identified incidences of identified human trafficking and modern slavery in every local authority area in Scotland. It is a wide-spread but often hidden issue. Survivors often experience trauma and PTSD which is made worse by inadequate housing, poverty, and asylum and justice systems which can be re-traumatising.   

For Joy Gillespie from SOHTIS, the fact that hope is the theme of this year’s festival is extremely important. She explained how the work of SOHTIS is all about answering the question, “How can we bring hope to this situation?” 

For many of the individuals SOHTIS supports, simple kindness and care – as well as advocacy – makes a huge difference.  Joy and her colleagues aim to “counteract some of these horrible memories and try to make that balance a little bit, and give hope and memories that are positive.” 

Doćhas – An Exhibition of Paintings of Hope’ is open from 17-26 June at Flemington House, in the Springburn area of Glasgow. You can find more information about the event series here.  

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