A calligraphy artist who fled the war in Syria and resettled in Kingston is staging an exhibition in the borough.

Abdulrahman Murabieh is a former Syrian lawyer who has turned his hand to Arabic calligraphy with stunning results.

A selection of his work is currently on show in the main room at Kingston Museum in an exhibition that "showcases the positive impact that refugees can have on a community, and the unique perspective they offer".

Like estimated millions of his fellow countrymen, Abdulrahman was forced to flee the ongoing war in Syria after fighting broke out in 2011.

Unlike many others forced to flee the violence and destruction unfolding in the region, he managed to find a safe place to stay.

Surrey Comet: Abdulrahman Murabieh Abdulrahman Murabieh

After an arduous journey he and his family were settled in Kingston in 2018, their family among the 44 refugees settled in the borough after Kingston Council (RBK) put itself forward as a potential home for those fleeing violence and persecution.

They made it via the UK's Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme (VPRS) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

"Kingston has been a very beautiful and peaceful place to live in," Abdulrahman told the Comet ahead of a viewing event for his calligraphy taking place on Thursday (January 7).

He added that he had "nurtured a love for calligraphy" from a very young age and has built on his passion ever since.

"The Arabic language is full of beauty and poetry, and one of the most inspiring artistic expressions that emerged from it is the different ways of writing or rather drawing the Arabic alphabet letters.

"Calligraphy is such a vast sea made of different styles, I am most familiar with the ones such as Ruq’ah, Thuluth, Naskh, Kufi, Farsi," Abdulrahman said.

Surrey Comet: Abdulrahman Murabieh Abdulrahman Murabieh

Indeed, compared to our more Spartan Latin alphabet, Arabic characters cut more intricate shapes and, when presented like this, become undeniably beautiful.

Refugee Action Kingston (RAK)'s Marwa Belghazi, who is helping produce the exhibition, agrees:

"I have seen him start from nothing and turn that into a beautiful set of pieces where poetry, common phrases and spirituality all are given respect — mixing the sacred and profane in a way that flows and brings peace," she described.

Marwa has worked with Abdulrahman through RAK as a self-proclaimed "problem solver" who supports the family as they adapt to life in the UK.

"Abdulrahman has a talent that deserves to be showcased.

"I see this exhibition as a first step towards spending more efforts and resources on people's skills and bringing that to the centre of their recovery and capacity building," she said.

Both her and Abdulrahman point out how valuable the contributions of those forced to flee violence and live in a strange land can be.

"There are so many active and influential members of this society who have come as refugees or born to refugees ancestors," Abdulrahman said.

Marwa meanwhile indicated that solely referring to people who have fled violence or oppression as "refugees" can itself cause problems.

"Just by using the word 'refugee' outside the legal framework to describe a group of people or a person creates in itself a fertile soil for misconceptions.

"Every person arriving comes with their own singularity even as part of a more global geopolitical situation, such as the Syrian war for example.

"I prefer to create alternative narratives that enrich our conceptions of the people we encounter," she said.

This exhibition seems like an ideal place to continue that work, and there is more on the way from Abdulrahman and Marwa.

The pair now plan to launch a magazine-newsletter featuring guest writers in both English and Arabic.

"We offer a space for people to write in Arabic and English and also bring different generations together by working on a handmade publication.

"This will be a chance for me to experiment with Arabic calligraphy for a different type of format," Abdulrahman said.

"We blend calligraphy, archiving and bilingualism to forge a new space to breathe for the Kingston's diverse communities and beyond," Marwa added.

Abdulrahman's exhibition is running throughout January at Kingston Museum.