I followed the Arab Spring in 2011 with as much interest as any other person; a wave of urgency for freedom and a better life washing over a region so plagued with dictators, failed Western foreign policy and poor social development was captivating to see. Springs across the region came and went, but Syria’s spring soon turned to Autumn and Winter and continued to persist years beyond others as the situation deteriorated to disaster. I decided to go and see the fall out of the ensuing war, and the Syrians flooding out of it’s borders to it’s neighbours, and later into Europe, to see for myself their lives, to hear their stories of dreams, loss and injustice, but also to witness their strength, compassion and perseverance.

The Arab Spring was also interesting for another reason, it was the first series of conflicts to take part entirely since the flourishing of social media and the establishment of the smartphone. This dramatically changed the way information was recorded and consumed, the war was being covered in real time by those in the streets, in the battlefield, those fleeing. Every person from Tunis, Cairo to Damascus were recording their revolution from their perspective, often for the more modest audience of their friends and family.

My friend, Ahmad, in Jordan, spoke to me with such heart about his home, “I remember that before the Revolution if you ask any Syrian he will tell you that the walls have ears, this is very popular. And now, you broke all these walls, and you are in the middle of the street shouting freedom, and everyman from his first shout becomes free. It’s something you can’t describe by words, you have to live it to know what I’m talking about.” The Arab Spring lit a fire inside everyone across the region, it gave them a taste of something they’ve never had before, it let them shout things in the street they’re never shouted before, it bought them closer to fulfilling many of their dreams. This dream may be hard to find now, but I find comfort in thinking that Syrians will never accept their lives before the war.

My project is a personal journey through the Syrian spring, turned civil war, with work spanning 11 countries. The project is a mix of documentary photography and collected imagery from the phones of refugees themselves, creating a collaborative element to the project that reflects the growing importance of technology in personal recording of your surroundings during crisis, and also revealing the delicate and unseen moments that a refugee chooses to record for themselves, and aiming to show a multi layered and multi format piece of work that shows the fall out of the Arab Spring and refugee crisis through the paradigm of one nation. The fragmented lives of the exiled Syrian soul.

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