The Exhibition 'Journey into Exile' at the Aberdeen Arts Centre was produced by the charity, Art Refuge UK. This organisation helps Tibetan refugee children, newly arrived in Nepal or India, through the medium of visual arts and creative play. Over 3000 refugees make the long and difficult journey over the Himalayas into exile each year to escape the oppressive Chinese regime in their homeland. More than one-third of these are children under 14 years old. The exhibition is a celebration of their courage and determination.
The Exhibition, which ran from 1st to 21st December, was opened by the local MSP Richard Baker, who is a member of the cross-party group on Tibet in the Scottish Parliament. In his opening address he recalled that his interest in Tibet had been sparked when, as an undergraduate at Aberdeen University, the Dalai Lama had visited to receive an honorary doctorate. This was also the event which caused the formation of Tibet Support Group Grampian.
Some of these recollections of Tibet show an idyllic pastoral lifestyle. However, many of them depict violence and torture which the children themselves would not have witnessed, but which they would have heard about from their elders.
The traumas experienced by the children as they crossed the Himalayas, mostly at night and in severe conditions of cold and snow are clear here. In particular, the shooting of the Tibetan refugees by Chinese border guards at the Nangpa La Pass in September 2006 are depicted in two paintings - one by a 10 year old boy.
There are some wonderful and imaginative images here, many portraying the Tibetan flag, which is banned in Tibet itself. In one dream of returning home, the sky over Tibet is full of colourful parachutes of the Tibetan refugees descending, including the Dalai Lama descending onto the Potala Palace.
The exhibition is currently being shown in the Edinburgh University Student's Union, and it is hoped that it will then move on to the Scottish Parliament.