‘Imagine’: Refugee Week portrait series by Pål Hansen

Renowned photographer Pål Hansen produces portraits shot during lockdown for Refugee Week 2020

For Refugee Week 2020 (15-21 June), we are commissioning renowned portrait photographer Pål Hansen to produce a series of portrait photographs on the Refugee Week 2020 theme of ‘Imagine’.

Pål’s back catalogue of intimate and striking portraits features some of the world’s most recognisable cultural figures, among them Kanye West, Will Ferrell, Jackie Chan, Nicole Kidman, Rio Ferdinand, Nadiya Hussain and Grayson Perry. His personal projects include ‘Windrush – Leave to Remain’, in which portraits of victims of the Windrush scandal were buried underground, leaving them scratched and marked, yet rooted in the British landscape.

For Refugee Week 2020, we commissioned Pål to photograph a diverse range of artistic and cultural figures, who are sharing the future they imagine for Refugee Week 2020. The eleven sitters include ‘For Sama’ director Waad Al-Kataeb, actor Himesh Patel, journalist Gary Younge and Syrian beekeeper and founder of the ‘Buzz Project’ Ryad Alsous.

In the original concept for this commission, each sitter was to be photographed within a fantastical physical set especially created by Pål to reflect their individual ‘imagining’.

When lockdown began in the UK, the project itself became the subject of a radical re-imagining, as we worked with Pål to find a creative solution that would enable the portraits to be shot by the sitters themselves, under Pål’s direction.

The final portraits and an accompanying video are to be combined with graphic design by London-based design agency BCMH, and will be released online for Refugee Week 2020, 15-21 June.