Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Refugee artist donates 'thank you' paintings to Leith School of Art

Nihad Al Turk Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Nihad Al Turk is an internationally renowned artist

An award-winning artist is donating some of his paintings to the art school that helped him after he fled Syria.

Nihad Al Turk came to Edinburgh in 2015 with his wife Sawsan Osso after he was arrested several times for opposing the Syrian regime.

The Leith School of Art (LSA) supported Mr Al Turk and gave him a space to work to help rebuild his life and practice.

The Aleppo painter joins more than 50 artists in supporting the art school's fundraising auction.

Mr Al Turk, who is donating three works to the LSA, described the art school as "wonderful".

He said: "I wanted to say thank you to everyone and the best way I can do that is through my art.

"I worked hard for many years to build my career as an artist at home, but the war meant all that was lost and it became too dangerous to stay there.

"I am determined not to surrender. I managed to bring some art materials with me to Scotland and within four days I started work again.

"My aim now is to start all over again and build my reputation in this new country that has been so kind to us."

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Nihad Al Turk is donating three works to the art school

Mr Al Turk, who is a Syrian Kurd, was on the first refugee flight to the UK from Lebanon, landing in Glasgow in November 2015.

He and his wife now have two young children.

A past winner of the prestigious international Golden Prize at the Latakia Biennale, Mr Al Turk has had his work exhibited across the world, including in New York, London and Dubai.

He also created a large work that was shown outside St John's Church, on Princes Street in Edinburgh, for Refugee Week.

LSA principle Phil Archer said he found Mr Al Turk's story "inspiring".

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Nihad Al Turk and his wife Sawsan Osso, who have two young children, arrived on the first Syrian refugee flight to the UK

He said: "We were introduced when he first arrived in 2015 and I have been impressed by his talent and determination to build his career in a new land thousands of miles from the home he was forced to flee."

The auction will take place on Friday at 17:30 at the Lyon and Turnbull auction house in Edinburgh.

Work from other artists, including John Brown, Callum Innes and Cathie Pilkington will also be up for sale.

The funds raised will help with the continued running of the school, which is an independent charity.

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