A MEMORIAL exhibition at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art pays tribute to the late Ausama al Khalil, an asylum seeker who fled Iraq to escape persecution and torture.

An artist and designer originally from Baghdad, he arrived in the UK in 2006 seeking asylum and settled in Middlesbrough. He died in 2016.

In that year mima showed his work in the exhibition If All Relations Were to Reach Equilibrium, Then This Building Would Dissolve.

His work speaks of displacement, stories of care and recovery from repression and the role art plays in therapy and reconciliation.

In a documentary made about him, he said: “When I am painting I am feeling I am alive. When painting, sometimes my mind does not think about my suffering and this gives me hope for the future.”

The exhibition was organised by friends and supporters to raise awareness of the struggles faced by people seeking asylum. It runs until August 27.

Two friends, John and Margaret Hinman, said: “We had known Ausama for some time and feel his work offers a unique perspective on the trials and tribulations of asylum seekers escaping war and civil unrest.

"His work also explores the journey between cultures and continents, denial of rights, adjustment and assimilation. Ausama made a strenuous effort to reclaim dignity and respect through his art.”