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Issued:12/05/16

An exhibition featuring abandoned and lost belongings of refugees in Europe opens at Sheffield Hallam University next week.

'Absence-Presence: Kos' will display items found on Kos alongside pictures from the Greek island, which has been receiving a massive influx of migrants escaping the Syrian conflicts.

The collection was curated by Dr David Swann, subject group leader in product and furniture design at Sheffield Hallam, and will run from 16 to 19 May at Sheffield Institute of Arts, the former Head Post Office in Fitzalan Square.

David worked with colleagues from Kos-Solidarity, a volunteer group aiming to help those affected by the migrant crisis.

David, who visited Kos in March, said, "We are in the middle of the biggest humanitarian crisis since the second World War and we are having to deal with the enormous difficulties conflicts have created. With Kos-Solidarity, I have seen first-hand the problems and I hope that the exhibition at Hallam will help more people to understand the plight of those affected.

"The trip to Kos to advance the project became hugely significant as I arrived the evening before the EU/Turkey deal came into force. This game-changer, turning refugee reception into rejection, proved to be catalyst for Absence-Presence."

Lost lifejacket

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Kos-Solidarity was collectively nominated along with 16 other volunteer groups for the Nobel Peace prize for their humanitarian work.

David has also been collaborating with Kos-Solidarity alongside poet Louise Wallwein, editor Sue Roberts and Cate Benincasa-Sharman of University of Huddersfield since October 2015 to repurpose the island’s abandoned life jackets into a trio of useful products for refugees. 'The LifeHacket Trio' consists of a back pack, a pillow and a belt.

For press information: Please contact Tim Ward in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2811 or email tim.ward@shu.ac.uk