The concept of a shelter, a safe place … a HOME, is one that many of us take for granted. Consider how you would feel if the place you call home was taken from you at a moment’s notice. What would you try to rescue from your life? What would you take with you?


In this body of work I invite you to take a journey with the millions of refugees all over the world that have been forcibly displaced by war, political instability, ethnic cleansing or natural disaster. Following on from my recent work about Palestine, my main motivation for making this new work is to connect and compare the plight of the Palestinian refugees from the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 with that of the refugees leaving war-torn countries today. Sadly, nearly 70 years on not much has changed… we see today’s refugees living in makeshift shelters and tents, now a universal symbol of loss and of displacement from the security of home.


UN resolution 194 enshrines the Right of Return for all refugees when war is over, Palestinians have never been allowed to exercise this Right. Will the world’s 65.3 million refugees ever be able to return to their homeland? Where will they go? I wonder whether, like the Palestinian people, they have taken the key to their homes with them on their long journeys, in the hope of one day being able to return.



The viewer is invited to go on their own journey, to a different place where they will find safety and shelter.


Extract from ‘A Home’ from the book ‘Remember Us: Stories of Struggles, Hopes and Dreams. Edited by Husna Musa and Zabrina A. Bakar


“And the key I keep under my pillow

The key that my grandmother kept under her pillow

The key that my daughter will keep under her pillow

And so will her daughter

Is the key to home

The home

The only place

We could ever call



Nour Osama El Borno. 2014


Please read the full poem >

Belonging(s) in the Crossley gallery, Dean Clough

Palestinian Children enjoying Safe Shelter


Wax, spent matches, thread and pigment

IN CASE OF . . .

Old lock, pitch pine and acrylic


Torn paper and ink


Scorched paper, thread


Bread, old keys


Wax, thread

(inside Safe Shelter)


Old keys, printed labels and printed board