Landscape near Halabja by Abdulrahman Mirza


Halabja in the Golden Days

Part of Journeys Festival International

14th Oct – 3rd Nov 2021

Mon to Sat 10am–3pm, Sun 12.45–3pm

Portsmouth Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth, PO1 2HA

Halabja is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, widely known for the terrible chemical weapons attack of 1988. This formed part of the ‘Anfal’ campaign of persecution, which resulted in many Kurds fleeing Iraq and seeking refuge overseas. The large Kurdish community in Portsmouth, many of whom were originally from Halabja, have for many years held an annual ceremony of remembrance.

Before 1988, Halabja was renowned for its beauty and culture. Gulan and our associates have conducted interviews to create a series of articles on the city’s art, theatre, music and sports. Together with essays on Halabja’s history, poetry and costumes, these were published in magazine format as part of the Journeys Festival International in 2020.

Gulan is now turning this material, together with new artworks by Kurdish artists, into an exhibition in Portsmouth Cathedral. The exhibition will also include a major new artwork commission to be installed in the cathedral nave. It will be held from 14th Oct – 3rd Nov 2021 as part of this year’s Journeys Festival International. The project is being developed with Portsmouth’s Kurdish community, who will also participate in a programme of events including a performance of Kurdish costumes, music and dancing.

We want to give the Kurdish diaspora an opportunity to celebrate their identity. We also want to raise awareness among the wider public about the culture of Kurdistan and the Kurds who have made Portsmouth their home. 

For more details about the exhibition, to arrange interviews or group visits please email