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Exhibition focuses on the unseen

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A fine art photography exhibition is an unexpected outcome of a fundraising dinner for Afghan refugees organised by Vinnies and a refugee support group that meets in the Hindmarsh parish hall.

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The exhibition of photographs by John Hemmings and Muzafar Ali is being held at Gingers Café and Gallery, Goodwood, as part of the South Australian Living Arts (SALA) festival.

The two photographers came together by chance after Vinnies approached Mr Hemmings to see if he knew how they could get hold of photos of Afghanistan to use as placemats at the charity dinner.

Muzafar Ali and John Hemmings.

Through social media, Mr Hemmings was put in touch with Mr Ali who happened to also live in Adelaide and has a collection of stunning photographs taken between 2005 and 2012 while he was working in his home country for the United Nations.

“I bought a camera with my first salary which was one of the best things I did because the situation in Afghanistan has been getting worse and worse,” Mr Ali said.

“The photographs are part of history, they are taken in places that you could never go to now because of the Taliban. You can’t even take a smart phone into these areas.”

After spending time as a refugee in Indonesia, where he established a school for refugee children, he was granted entry to Australia and is now studying policy, politics and applied linguistics with a view to working with refugees.

Mr Hemmings has taken thousands of photos for Catholic schools over the years and has compiled a collection of photographs from his travels abroad, including India.

“My initial thinking and also conversation with Muzafar was that his images were fascinating glimpses of an Afghanistan that people don’t understand and therefore people need to see these particular pictures,” Hemmings said.

“And from that beginning came the idea of putting his images on display for others to see.. and then days later the thought of sharing the exhibition space.”

Mr Hemmings described his own work as portraying the poverty and darker side of India that tourists often didn’t see.

Entitled A Darker India and Unseen Afghanistan, the  exhibition is open until the end of September from 8am to 4pm.

Picture: Muzafar Ali

Picture: John Hemmings

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