• 8th Oct - 2nd Nov 2022
  • Stephen Lawrence Gallery

Exhibition of works by Pa Muhammed Gaye and Umama Hamido

Pa Muhammed believed that his drawings would save his life. Drawing as a form of prayer, to relieve the stress
and make sense of his daily struggles.

Muhammed also had a strong desire to bring his drawings to a wider audience, so he photocopied them. Posting
them through letterboxes and giving them out to the people he met on the streets; to security guards, students,
police officers, bus drivers, shopkeepers, gang members, street cleaners, mental health hospital staff and other
people from the homeless community.

It was through this act of distribution that I first met Muhammed. At a cafe outside Stratford Shopping centre he
gave me a photocopy of one of his drawings. He then explained how they express his philosophy on family, unity,
love, compassion and slavery. The drawing looked like miniatures depicting both the density of London life and
memories of a distant African village. In my hand was a kaleidoscopic and intricate drawing.

This took place during a period of my life where I shared the struggles of Muhammed. I too was stateless and
homeless. We instantly became friends.

As the friendship developed I started filming our encounters. We spent hours and days together on the streets,
among the homeless community that used to stay in and around Stratford Shopping Centre. It is the people of
this community, the violence, the addiction, the mental health problems, the crime and the endless love on the
streets that steer Muhammed through his story.

And through this process I was able to capture something of Muhammed’s epic journey. The ups and downs, the
endless discoveries and the challenges to the spirit of being homeless and stateless.

The journey he lived from 2018, when we started filming, as an undocumented migrant on the
streets, until he finally acquired his legal status in 2021.

This exhibition brings together a selection of Pa’s drawings alongside clips from my film-in-progress.

These works document life on the streets, the struggles and the friendships. Exploring the powers of resilience
and creativity when facing hardship and structural oppression. Highlighting the impact of forced displacement
on individuals who find themselves pushed to the margins of society. Bearing witness to the inhumanity of the
immigration system in the UK.

-Umama Hamido

Muhammed Gaye (b.1978), born in the Gambia and living in the UK since the age of 18, and now currently living in London. Gaye is an artist who draws on his lived experience of life on the margins as an immigrant.  His intricate drawings express a cosmic world rooted in the reality of these experiences. 

Umama Hamido (b.1987), born in the Lebanon and now currently based in London. As an artist and filmmaker, she has been making work that addresses lived and shared experiences of immigration since 2014.

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