Tyne & Wear

Making Tyneside Home: Photos reflect Tyneside immigration

Krista Puranen Wilson Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Krista Puranen Wilson left her home in Finland in 2003 to move to England "for love"

A photographic exhibition capturing the personal stories of scores of people who have settled on Tyneside is on display in Newcastle.

The portraits document the journeys of 41 individuals who have moved to the region over the past 70 years.

Photographer Jeremy Abrahams said the exhibition invited visitors to "consider their attitudes towards immigration".

"I'm trying to humanise immigration. When you see people as individuals you often change your perspective."

Each person was asked by Mr Abrahams, who grew up in Sunderland, to choose the location of their portrait.


1994: Smajo Beso

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams

"When I was nine, my family and I came to Newcastle as refugees from the war in Bosnia. The refugee centre on Linden Road was the first place our whole family was together since my dad had been taken away and put in a prison camp a year earlier. When we arrived there, I felt complete.

"Human beings need more than food, shelter and water to thrive: we need to feel safe. Nobody chooses to leave their home, their culture, all of their friends and neighbours, and for a long time I wanted to go back to Bosnia.

"But the people of Newcastle welcomed us into their community. Today I am 100% Bosnian and 100% Geordie. That's what makes Newcastle a great city: it is a place where we are all the same because we are all free to be different."


1983: Paul Johann Luft

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams

"In the early 1980s my job brought me first to Manchester and then to the North East. I have been permanently living in Newcastle since 1983. My family and I have taken proper roots in this remarkable city.

"Although wind and cool temperatures make it sometimes less attractive than the south of the country or the warmer regions in Europe, it is now my home.

"As a European citizen in Newcastle, I like the way it is self-contained but looking outward."


2010: Gosia Ciesielska

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams

"I was born and raised in Poland, then spent a number of years working in Scandinavia. I arrived here after completing my PhD at Copenhagen Business School.

"Newcastle University offered me a post-doctoral position in the business school. Ten years later I have taken on the role of associate professor at Northumbria University.

"According to my foreign friends I look and speak like a Brit, while my British friends say I have Geordie vowels. My son was born in the North East and we call this place home now.

"Newcastle turned out to be a friendly place, although it took me a while to accept that a random shopkeeper calls me 'pet'."


1961: Tony Suadwa

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams

"I came here as a young lad to study business. The only other Africans here in 1961 were fellow students and I felt isolated and homesick. By the time I finished my course I was happy here and when a military coup in Ghana made it dangerous to return I decided to stay.

"I worked for the Civil Service for over 30 years before retiring. Since then I have given much of my time to promoting African culture and music and to supporting asylum seekers and refugees.

"I miss the atmosphere in Ghana but I like it in the North East: people are friendly and I have great neighbours."


1967: Vathsala Rajan

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams

"I moved to the UK in 1967 to join my husband after our traditional Hindu marriage. I had never left India before, and my limited knowledge of Tyneside was from newspapers.

"We made Newcastle-upon-Tyne our home. Despite being from an ethnic minority group, we have always felt welcome here and over the years have enjoyed the evolution of the city's rich sense of community, cultural and ethnic diversity."

Arrivals: Making Tyneside Home is on display at the Discovery Museum until 3 November.

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