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Bridport Arts Newsletter

AKA Mash P

Photography Exhibition: 12 May to 18 June 2022

This exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre features a series of photographs by Nathaniel Sesay, aka Mash P, a musician and photographer from Taiama, Sierra Leone.

Captured by rebels when he was nine years old and forced to fight in Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war, Mash spent five years in the jungle. After the war, rejected by family, he lived on the streets of Freetown for twelve years using his music to explore corruption, isolation and the stigma of being a child soldier.

Mash took up photography in 2018, supported by WAYout Arts, a UK registered charity that has been  working in Sierra Leone since 2008, with street and disadvantaged youth. Alone with his camera, Mash began taking photographs on Bume Dirty Box, the biggest rubbish dump in Freetown where many families scrape an existence. He found a young boy called Mamadu who was the same age as Mash was when he was captured by rebels.

The images in this exhibition give an honest portrayal of life on the dump, brutal and miserable but still a place for children to find joy through play. The exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre features photographs and video, and will be supported by a screening of a BBC documentary about Nathaniel’s life (dates to be confirmed).

Mash has had exhibitions in London, Manchester and Portland, USA.

Mash’s story and the work of charity WAYout demonstrates the power of the arts to transform lives. Mash discovered WAYout eight years ago and with them recorded an album ‘Mr President’, playing a mixture of Afrobeat and dance hall. As time goes by his music has become increasingly upbeat with dance music like ‘Static’ alongside the more serious tracks such as ‘After the Jungle’ which features Frank Turner. The Joe Strummer Foundation and musician Frank Turner have played a large part in Nathaniel’s journey.

Mash’s story resonates around the world – in common with that of thousands of similarly brutalised young men, whose bodies survived conflict but whose minds did not. He now has a global talent visa and a three year resident’s permit to study and work in the UK.

WAYout works with street and disadvantaged youth offering training and free facilities for creating music, digital media, film, photography, and other art forms. They have found that learning creative skills boosts self-confidence, gets people into jobs, helps street youth re-engage with education or opens the door back home. WAYout supports those who want to be professional musicians or filmmakers to reach a high standard of expertise and be employable in the media and arts industries.

They work with the most marginalised groups with little formal education but who can be engaged through the arts, and remain committed to working with ex-combatants from the ten year long conflict in Sierra Leone.

For the latest updates about this exhibition please click here.  

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