Since 2015, the Syrian artist Reem Helou from Damascus has been living in Germany. Due to the worsening political situation she was forced to leave their home country like many others. The set designer and illustrator managed to flee to Europe along with two other women, eventually arriving in Dortmund.
The scholarship programme Individual Support for Artists and Creative Minds provides assistance to Helou at multiple levels. In the medium term, she wishes to engage artistically with her homeland escape. On a long-term basis, she aims at becoming an established artist in Germany and rebuilding her art business. Not only did she leave behind her materials but also the network she had established in her home country.
Prior to the assistance from the Individual Support for Artists and Creative Minds, she worked as a set designer in the Theater Oberhausen for the Greek drama MEDEA which was directed by Wihad Suleiman. The medium of illustration appears to be more suitable to engage with her flight from her home country as she wishes to convey her experience by using drawings and illustrations. Written records of her journey with her co-travellers will serve as a basis for this. The descriptions move between sadness, shock, the grotesque and the absurd. The use of illustrations represents the beginning of a new way of working that creates space to experiment with different methods and materials.