Fairfield House in Bath, the residence of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie I while in exile, is staging a unique photographic exhibition.
Ethiopian photographer Addishiwot Asfawosen Zeleke’s Roots offers a fascinating series of portrait, documentary and landscape photographs from diverse regions of Ethiopia, presenting an intimate look into the lifestyle and culture of her homeland.
It is the first UK showing for the exhibition, which has been curated by University of the West of England senior lecturer of photography Dr Shawn Sobers,
To capture scenes for the show Addishiwot traveled to regions in Ethiopia such as Arba Minch, Addis Abeba, Gonder, Bahir Dare, Awassa, Shashemene, Wondo Genet, Axum and Lalibela
She said: “The reason for focusing on these counties is to demonstrate the lifestyle and culture and the awareness that they all have and share with one another to make Ethiopia a beautiful place for anyone to come and reside there.”
Fairfield House, in Kelston Road, Newbridge, has global significance as the former residence of Haile Selassie, who is treated as a deity by the Rastafarian community. He lived in the house between 1936 and 1941 while exiled by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.
The exhibition is staged as the Friends of Fairfield House continues to campaign to save the house as a site of historical importance for the city, and also for it to continue to be used as a day centre for the Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens Association (BEMSCA).
The house’s Tafari Gallery will host three exhibitions a year from local, national and international artists, with themes relating to its history and international significance., particularly to the Rastafarian community and Ethiopians.
Dr Shawn Sobers, who is also the gallery curator, said: “I think it’s an important exhibition to hold here in Fairfield House, and for the city.
“Emperor Haile Selassie was given the Freedom of the City of Bath, so to bring photography of Ethiopia here, made by an Ethiopian-born photographer, is vitally important, as it is part of the historical contract that this building has with the city and the country that gave this building its global significance. The photographs are fantastic and they are perfect for the space here.”
The exhibition opened with an event on January 7, when Ethiopians traditionally celebrate Christmas, featuring Ethiopian singing, prayers, Rastafarian drumming and chanting and traditional Ethiopian foods being served. The exhibition continues until May 1.