One Day Changes Exhibition


Thursday 12 to Tuesday 17 May 2022
One Day Changes Exhibition
St John's College, Durham
The exhibition is open: 12 & 13 May, 12pm to 6pm, 14 & 15 May, 11am to 1pm, 16 & 17 May, 3pm to 6pm

Don't miss the chance to see a unique collection of documentary photographs taken in Iraq by photojournalists Ako Ismail and Shahor Omar which explore how in one day something so dramatic and life-changing can force people, including children, who were leading normal lives, to suddenly become refugees fleeing their homes, and become survivors looking for a safe place.

The exhibition also features The Smell of Apples a short film created by Ako and Shahor that tells the true story of Azad who survived the Halabja chemical attack which took place 34 years ago on 16 March 1988 during the closing days of the Iran-Iraq War.

"This is such a powerful and moving exhibition - like a testimony of grief and life. And I can't evade our/my responsibilities for what has happened in this region over decades and more. So important that we welcome refugees and asylum seekers - as well as the other actions we can take. Many thanks to Skimstone Arts, Ako and Shahor."
Visitor to One Day Changes Exhibition, January 2022

One Day Changes Q&A
Wednesday 11 May 2022, 4-5.30pm
St John's College, Durham

Join our Associate Artists Ako Ismail and Shaho Omar as they take part in a free Q&A hosted by our Artistic Director Claire Webster Saaremets about the power of the image within photojournalism. This free event will take place at St John's College Durham from 4-5.30pm then there will be an opportunity to explore Ako and Shaho's photographic and film exhibition One Day Changes documenting refugee camps in Iraq and Syria which will be officially opened at 6pm.

One Day Changes was first exhibited from Thursday 13 to Thursday 20 January 2022 at Newcastle City Library and at Pop Recs in Sunderland on Wednesday 16 March 2022.

About One Day Changes:

One Day Changes is a joint exhibition by Skimstone Arts' Associate Artists and photojournalists Ako Ismail from Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Shahor Omar from Kirkuk, Iraq who now live in the North East of England with lived refugee experience. The exhibition shows how in one day something so dramatic and life-changing forces people, including children, who were leading normal lives, suddenly to become refugees fleeing their homes, and as survivors look for a safe place.


Both Ako and Shahor experienced trauma in their families and their own lives through war and oppression, and the risks of working in the media because of terrorism, censorship and repercussions, including kidnapping, death threats or even being killed. They have witnessed the political instability and unrest first-hand, and talk about how as photojournalists they feel a need to document what is happening“for it to be a real, to be witnesses, and proof to the people across the world.” Ako


In the Middle East those who have a journalist's voice and are active in their work, most of them have been killed, to silence the voices of the communities. There is a big issue with the law in the Middle East as the judges who lead the trials of the journalists, are controlled by the ruling partisans. The Kurdish people have always wanted their own independence from Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria as there will never be peace whilst they are controlled, and oppressed by these four neighbouring countries. It’s like having four bad neighbours.Shahor


Their work as photojournalists and also in Shahor’s case, as a videographer, is to capture the stories that matter.


Everything that happens in our lives is a story; happiness, tragedy, failure, love, peace, war, survival. As a child, I saw war and it opened my eyes. I heard bombs. I was nineteen when I started working in the media. I have an idea to work for peace, not war. I want to show my photos and film to people, that war is dangerous, it’s bad, loss of friends, loss of family, loss of everything. There is risks for me, but I have a big dream. Peace. People in my country need peace. People are tired in my country.Shahor


I began documenting refugee stories from 2013, but never thought that I would become a refugee myself after two or three years. I was at risk of my life because I was reporting about the crimes of the war, which the partisans didn’t like.Ako  

When I documenting the children in the refugee camps, I saw how one day had changed their lives – different language, different space, no familiar home, not the same friends, but they live in the moment, they still play, they love to have their photos taken. We can learn from this, that they can be brave when life is down, or hope and life can be up.Ako


After seeing One Day Changes Exhibition, we hope that the public feels they are against war and are part of making peace.Shahor


This exhibition is a collection of documentary images that explore the One Day theme for National Holocaust Memorial Day Events 2022.

Thank you for this fantastic exhibition. The photos are beautiful and tell a powerful story about war and trauma, but also about resilience and joy in everyday life.A visitor to One Day Changes Exhibition, January 2022 

Visitors to the exhibition are asked to leave a pledge or action that will make a positive difference to the world.

One Day was the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day Events 2022. One Day Changes was presented as part of the National Holocaust Memorial Day Programme and is part of Newcastle City Council's Holocaust Memorial Day Events 2022.