Through various aspects of culture and heritage, oral histories, photography and food, ARATTA: Armenians in the North West brings into spotlight the unheard stories, dreams, aspirations and faces that constitute the Armenian-British community.
Today, there is around 20.000 ethnic Armenians in the United Kingdom, the majority based in London and Manchester. Armenians have been living in the British Isles since Roman times. There have been threaded links between Britain and Armenia since the 13th century. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century, when Armenians settled here as merchants, most of which arrived in 1830s to trade in silk.
The mainspring of the instigation of the diaspora in the United Kingdom was the tragic event of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. With the arrival of Armenian students, doctors, lawyers, merchants and refugees from the Ottoman Empire, the industrial city of Manchester was their first home. Settling here, Armenians in the city played a vital role in highlighting the plight of their homeland and vastly influenced the British foreign policy at the time.
In recent years, there has been an influx of Armenians from the Republic of Armenia, as some of the descendants of the first migrants disappeared to assimilation to other parts of the UK and beyond. Lots of their stories, especially about the violence in genocide – lost because of stigma and shame. As Joan George, the author of ‘Merchants in Exile 1835-1935’ mentions, similar to every diasporan community, the first generation of the Armenians in the North West absorbed itself in the host culture. Now it is up to the new generations to reconnect with their past and rediscover their Armenian heritage.
The aim of ARATTA project is to draw attention to people with Armenian heritage or intricate ties to Armenia – the seldom seen faces that make up the fascinating world of the Armenians in Manchester. It focuses on the constructs of identity and Armenianness showing people’s differences and similarities through combining photography and oral history interviews.
ARATTA features photography by Robert Binder and Darren Bullock – managed by Zara Hakobyan, the founder of Moss View Research, and background music from renowned jazz talent Tigran Hamasyan who offers an extraordinary interpretation of the Armenian folk music, sacred hymns and medieval sharakans.
Armenian heritage is intrinsic to England’s North West and collectively important to both Armenian and British community. ARATTA is here to encourage people to better understand this heritage and share its beauty. It is also here to unveil the untold stories, to capture the changing and enduring cultural practice of the Armenians and fill gaps in historical evidence.
ARATTA: Armenians in the North West
Manchester Central Library Basement
MAY 8 - JUNE 16 2019
T- +44 77 153 851 60