A new exhibition in Plymouth explores through photographs the things that young migrants from Poland consider to be sacred or spiritual. Fourteen Polish people in their 20s were each given a digital camera and asked to take photos of what represents something sacred to them. They were then interviewed about the photos.
Some of the photos are what you might expect – photos of Catholic church buildings, statues of Mary (there are a number in Plymouth that I had never noticed) or other things obviously associated with religion. Other photos, however, were more surprising, such as a mobile phone with showing an incoming Skype message or a photo of friends on a picnic. One person simply took ten photos of his wife.
These things, although not obviously spiritual, offer a connection to their families and the traditions that have been left behind. For some, finding equivalent outlets offer the support and connection to home. So, a picnic with friends, for example, is not the same as a traditional family meal but it suffices as a substitute. Practising their religion here is also different. Catholicism is a way of life in Poland and is done almost without thinking because it is so steeped in the culture. In the UK, where religion is no longer as embedded in people’s habits, church is a conscious choice. For them, it reminds them of what it means to be Polish.
The exhibition, entitled “Why Religion Matters To Young Polish Migrants”, runs in Plymouth Catholic Cathedral from 21st November for two weeks.
I’ll post up some photos when I can.