Brush&Bow is a platform for creative journalism, using illustrations and sound-recordings to explore the individual voices and stories of people within current social issues. As a musician and artist duo we use the arts to create spaces of communication, trust and celebration. Brush&Bow are interested in revealing the contrasting and subtle stories from beneath the surface; through this we work towards challenging negative stereotypes and fears.
Recently we have been based in Calais, listening to stories, taking sound recordings and documenting experiences during and ahead of the violent evictions. In June 2016 we received funding from the British Arts Council to look at the soundscape and experiences of the Roma gypsies in north east Romania. However over the past year we have predominantly focused on documenting refugee stories from Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Our future projects will include voices from the Zataari Camp, and tribal displacement in central India.
The way we work
As we are often working with vulnerable people, who have experienced war, violence and trauma, it is important for us to create spaces of trust, collaboration and joy. Rather than relying on traditional forms of journalism such as photography, which can often feel intrusive and one-sided, we use music and art to create a space beyond words, to build connections between people, create the potential for new conversations and celebrate the beauty of different cultures. This can take the form of group workshops, one to one illustrated conversations, but more often than not simply involves sitting around a fire with makeshift musical instruments, a sketch pad and being open to the stories which may unfold.
Heera Bai: Musician and creative writer
My number one rule is to never leave the house without an instrument, as you never know what musical experiences can arise! I love busking and the kind of people you meet when playing music on the streets in foreign cities. I speak French, Hindi and some Bengali; the experience of learning and speaking these languages has enabled me to experience different spectrums of humanity and realms of imagination.
Alongside Hindi, I also studied History at the School of Oriental and African Studies. This sharpened my skepticism of the stories and narratives which shape our perceptions, and inspired within me a curiosity for the individual stories which remain unheard, unknown and unremembered.
Hannah Kirmes-Daly: Reportage illustrator http://hkdillustration.Wordpress.com
Having grown up as an artist, smearing hand-prints across the walls and chalk-drawings on the street as a child, art has always felt like an easy and natural form of communication. Likewise moving and slipping between cultures has formed a part of my background, with Wales, India, Spain, Germany and England all creating homes for me at various periods. This has perhaps ignited within me a passion for dusty roadside Cafés, sitting and chatting with old people about life and habits, tracing lines in the sand to the next town, and learning about the weird and subtle things that form people and cultures; the unwritten rules and secret signs.
I work as an illustrator, using art as a way both to record scenes and tell visual stories, but also as a method of communication. Setting up with a sketch book on location instantly draws attention and curiosity. It is a wonderful way to initiate relaxed and interesting conversations with children, the elderly or anyone passing by. It can potentially break down language, gender and class barriers, creating a unique space to ask questions, paint together and reveal stories.
Having studied International Development and South Asian Studies, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, it has increased my understanding of issues concerning migration, gender, development and refugees. I am particularly interested in exploring the way in which art and music can both be used as a tool of communication and also provide spaces of collaboration to explore individual and collective stories of movement and change.