Confluence The World

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Name: Katherine Soutar

From: Shropshire, UK

Why am I part of Confluence? 

I climbed aboard the confluence boat through being contacted online by Laura, who knew of my involvement in storytelling through my illustration work and of the mutual affection we share for Morocco, which I view as my second home. I was already making connections between folktales I knew from Scotland and some I was learning on my trips to the Sahara desert, which confirmed my long held view that stories are a universal thread that connects us, wherever and whoever we are. As Victor Borge said 'The shortest distance between two people is a story' I love the power storytelling has to bring people together in peace and transport them to other worlds together although they still appear to be in this one. There is magic there. And it needs to be spread as generously as possible...

My story

I am an artist and illustrator, I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil and lived very much in my imagination as a child (and some of my friends would probably say I still do...) I was always fascinated by the interactions between words and images and from early on wove words into my work, which has always had a strongly narrative feel even without them.

My involvement with storytelling began almost 26 years ago now when I attended my first storytelling event and was captivated by the wonder of the spoken word as performance and communication. Shortly afterwards I was asked to join the organising committee of Festival at the edge, England's oldest storytelling festival, A role that I enjoyed for 15 years before retiring to concentrate on my freelance work.
it was during this time that I made many of the contacts that led me into working with storytellers. I love working with stories and feel honoured to know so many wonderful and inspiring tellers from traditions all around the world.

I work primarily now as an illustrator for the History press folktales and ghost tales book series as well as in collaboration with individual Storytellers turning their words and ideas into images. Recently I have even started to write my own stories in a small way.

I also work as an artist in residence in education and regularly run art workshops in both England and Morocco where I often use storytelling as a starting point for creative work. The way images and stories interact fascinates me, people have found whole new stories of their own in my images, sometimes so beautiful and moving they take my breath away...

Last year the history press published a book of 84 of my favourite illustrations for their folktales series, which was incredibly exciting for me and I am currently working on a couple of book ideas of my own. I take the odd photo too...

#confluencetheworld

Image © Jack Thompson


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Name: Fiona Morrison, Storyteller

From: Edinburgh/Bath, UK

Why am I part of Confluence?

“The last thing I expected when I moved from London to the quiet, Scottish countryside where my mother is from originally, was to find the world at my finger-tips! Walking into a Confluence event at Wigtown Book Festival, I instantly felt at home in this warm, diverse, global family. Sitting sharing stories around the fire is something that every culture has in common and Confluence is like a great, global fire around which everyone can come together and share. Every image and every story is a way of fighting against a world that wants to divide us. Storytelling is everywhere – in marketing, in politics, in the media – and sometimes it seems like every story we hear has some kind of agenda, a tale spun to sell us something or an image taken through a critical lense that stirs up hatred or confusion – Confluence gives us the chance to take back the art of storytelling for ourselves, to remind ourselves of its possibilities, its power, its magic. I can't wait to travel (metaphorically!) to more places I've never been, and make more friends and connections with people I would never have met!” 

My Story:

“I can’t remember when I first started telling and writing stories, but I moved around a lot with my family as a child and it quickly became my way to make friends in new places. Writing stories has since been an obsession - I cannot live without it - and my family would probably say I spend at least half of my time in a world far away from this one! Since doing a Masters in Creative Writing at Edinburgh University, I haven’t given enough of my time to writing so last year I left London to pursue it, and am now writing a novel properly for the first time. Having also had a unique opportunity to teach literature at a University in Saudi Arabia, I've seen the impact that sharing stories and taking books across borders can be – changing perceptions and creating empathy and understanding. That experience has impacted and shaped my life in a huge way, keeping me inspired to keep on telling and reading stories from all around the world and, if I can, travel there too!”

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Mehdi EL Ghaly, Storyteller 

From: Marrakech, Morocco 

Why am I part of Confluence?

“I love a new challenge that ends up being a self-discovery experience and that is what confluence provided. A moment to go and dive in my own art and explore my material from a different angle and to collaborate with like-minded people who have so much passion and respect for their craft and others. And not to forget, to create something that is timeless and inclusive.”

My story:

“I was three years old when I came to my mother and asked her a serious question, she didn't answer me in a word as any other person would do, she said buckle up I will tell you a story and take you through the ride of your life. When she finished her story, I learned and at that moment I witness what a story could do to a person. Then, right there, I wanted to be a storyteller...my love for stories grew and I grew with it but I am still that curious little kid that asked his mother a question, I owe all to her. Thanks to her, The Storyteller is now a reality.”

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Karla Suzanne Øfjord

From: Drammen, Norway


Why am I part of Confluence? 


On my way to Greece the summer of 2018 Confluence came into my life. StorySquad got a message from Laura on Facebook, who was searching for Norwegian storytellers, and BAM! we were in the Confluence Family. My first meeting with Confluence in real life was in Marrakech in October 2018. I am so happy to be part of this fantastic project with so many wonderful and inspiring people from around the world!

My story: 
I used to love stories as a child. I was born in London, England, but grew up the city of Drammen in Norway. My mother always read me stories, usually in English, when she put me to bed. I always listened very attentively to the stories and English nursery rhymes. Since I have had a strong connection to two countries from childhood, both language, traveling and stories have been of big interest and importance to me. My mother’s father was a very good storyteller too. He used to make up his own stories about a little mouse called Maren Mouse and she was always out on adventures around the world. Unfortunately I can’t remember these stories, but maybe I am that little Norwegian mouse traveling the world and making new stories. 

In 2017 I studied storytelling as a part of my BA in drama and theatre. I found out how powerful storytelling can be in it’s simple, but yet rich form, and how much value it can create for listeners of a story. For me storytelling was an important discovery, and it has led me to meet so many exciting places and people. Together with three other young and inspiring women, we created StorySquad in January 2018. Since then we have traveled to many different countries and told stories, and we will certainly continue that journey.

Image © Houssain Belabbes

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Tonje Gulbæk Barstad, photographer

From: Lørenskog, Norway

Why I am a part of confluence? 

This winter, Ine Mariel from StorySquad asked me to join the Confluence Norwegian team as a photographer.

The project seemed very exciting, and after taking part in the residency in Scotland in April I’m super happy that I joined. It’s amazing to be a part of this project, it’s so inspiring and I love that it goes beyond the country borders! I’m looking forward to everything we are going to do with the project, and I’m sure that together Team Confluence will make the result as great as it can be.

My story:

From a really young age I had an interest in drawing and painting, and when I got a bit older photography became a big big passion. I decided to study photography, and haven't regretted that for one moment. For the last five years I have been taking pictures of nature, portraits, fashion, weddings, real estate, from travels and so much more. In addition to photography my other big love is travel. Exploring and meeting people from other cultures is amazing. I have been dragging the camera around to capture great photos and beautiful memories in 40 countries, and many more to come.

Image © Houssain Belabbes

#confluencetheworld

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Name: Abi Hopkins, Photographer

From: Shropshire, UK

Why am I part of Confluence?

“I love the diversity of humanity and recognising that our individual differences are unique which is one of our greatest strengths. Being part of this community provides wonderful opportunities to gain greater understanding and respect of the many different cultures in the world whilst also identifying the threads that bind us together as people. I believe that we are all connected through this journey of life.”

My story: 

“I discovered my love of photography whilst exploring the deserts of Morocco. It started out as a little flame within me which has slowly grown over time. I’ve been blessed with some wonderful opportunities to photograph different cultures, people and places. Our cultures shape our behaviour and our identity and being able to capture this in a single photograph is one of the most exciting things and one that will last over time.” 

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Synne Marie Lillenes, Storyteller

From: Tromsø, Norway

Why am I part of confluence?

“StorySquad got a message from Laura just two days after we launched our facebook page. I have not been able to participate in what we have been invited to until now. I’m looking forward to truly being a part of this!” 

My story:

“I come from northern Norway, where stories have been an important part of my life for as long as i can remember. Everything from stories from our family where my great grandfather made new teeth for the local bear, to stories of the northern light snd arctic life. Legends and folk tales were also told a lot. All of my grandparents would tell these amazing stories. Like, for several years I was convinced my grandma’s neighbour was indeed as she said; a shark. 

I truly discovered the art of storytelling while studying theatre and drama in Volda. After getting my bachelors degree I moved to Oslo and studied this further, together with the women who together make StorySquad! 

Also I’m so much looking forward to hearing you all try to pronounce my name, always good fun!”

#confluencetheworld 


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Name: Ruari G Barber-Fleming, Photographer

From: Dumfries and Galloway, UK

Why am I part of Confluence? 

In 2018 an opportunity arose to become part of Confluence. I've always had a love for travel and discovery throughout my life visiting various locations across the globe. Confluence has provided the perfect scenario which enables photographers and storytellers from a ripe variety of backgrounds to connect. I am part of Confluence because Confluence allows me to take my craft, learn and connect with artists throughout the world.

My Story:

My passion for photography started through my past hobby of Skateboarding. Around the age of 13, myself and my friends would film and photograph each other trying tricks on our Sony Ericsson phones. Eventually we upgraded to some more suitable equipment. I took this passion to university studying Film & Media at QMU and Photography at Griffith University. I honestly don't think my attitude to photography has changed since I was 13... I still love capturing people working on their crafts and performing in one way or another. Capturing individuals working on there passions is just so energising! I now currently work mostly with musicians and theatre companies creating images and video to showcase these passions.

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Morag Paterson, Photographer


From: Born in Aberdeen, heart in Galloway but currently living in Liguria, Italy

Why I am part of Confluence? 

It’s a huge joy being part of the Confluence team, in an age where it seems like we are putting up walls and (re)creating borders it’s wonderful to see people committed to cross cultural work in whatever discipline but it’s especially exciting on an artistic platform with the ability to openly and personally respond to ideas.

My story:

I’ve been an abstract landscape photographer full time for 13 years now, working in a very responsive and fluid way, embracing experimentation and play in my work. As the outlook for the earth and humans becomes increasingly pessimistic, both environmentally and politically, I’m increasingly addressing these issues when I photograph, in an attempt to combine the natural beauty of the universe with a compelling urge to prompt urgent action in an attempt to protect it.

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Laura Hudson Mackay, Photographer

From: Scotland, UK

Why am I part of Confluence? 

I am passionate about building bridges and promoting understanding between people. Confluence was born out of a longing to use two of my favourite art forms, photography and storytelling, to bring people from different cultures together. Initially it was small, just four artists looking at how Celtic and Arabian stories have similarities and then trying to capture those similarities and themes through photographic art. Art can be a powerful universal language which has the ability to breakdown the differences that divide people. Photography when used alongside storytelling can unite and inspire. Since its inception, Confluence has grown with people from many different cultures joining in and sharing their own visions and stories. Through the Confluence journey to date I have met and am working with many inspirational people from many countries.

My Story:
Photography began as a hobby and I quickly became hooked and went on to study it full time. Creativity brought change to my life and I began travelling more and being courageous, even attempting a few things that scared me. I love travelling with my husband in our camper van and experiencing different cultures. The simplicity and freedom it brings to journey and discover new places gives me focus.

Much of my photographic work is inspired by Celtic lore, with many images reflecting the Celtic esoteric spirit and culture. When creating, I often draw on myths, legends and fairy tales from different cultures.
I am a professional photographic Artist, originally from Sheffield, England and now based in Dumfries and Galloway, South West Scotland. I completed an Advanced Diploma in Illustrative Photography at Glasgow Metropolitan College and a Diploma in Art History at London Art College. I am a Licentiate Member of the Royal Photographic Society and Area Representative for Dumfries and Galloway.

Image © Houssain Belabbes

#confluencetheworld





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Name: Ine Mariel Solbakken, storyteller

From: Harstad, Norway

Why am I part of Confluence?

“Confluence Upland crossed my life by coincidence, like all important things in life. My first meeting with the Confluence Family in Marrakech was filled with good conversations and love. I truly believe in this project – by getting to know different people in different cultures – we’re planting a seed for peace. And I’m proud to be a part of that.” 

My story: 

“I discovered storytelling through my bachelor’s degree in drama and theatre. At one point we were forced to write a story, and I sat down and started writing non-stop. Suddenly I realized that I had a lot of stories hiding inside of me, just waiting to be told. That’s when I found out storytelling is my calling. I am fascinated by people’s life stories, and how every small and big story from our life shapes our life story to who we become. Starting with personal stories – I learned to build a bridge over to my favorite folk tales from my childhood. I love magic and fantastic creatures and enjoy making old folk tales new and exciting for an audience. I think it’s important to continue the tradition, but also to make it new. Storytelling is not just an art form. It's a lifestyle. It's my contribution of making the world a better place.” 

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Abdelaali Ait Karroum (Ali), Photographer

From: Ourika, Marrakech, Morocco. 

Why Am I part of confluence?

Co-existence has always been one of my biggest visions in life and Confluence aims for it! I kept following the updates of the confluence collaboration until the moment came and I seized the opportunity to be part of such a great project. Now being part of the confluence family, I get the chance to realise one of my hopes.

My story:

After finishing university studies, I worked in the field of tourism but have always been interested in photography as an art.  During the period of work, I practiced photography partially, supported by several people. I left my former job and took off in photography as a full time profession. I have found in photography all that suits my life style and passion.

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Tom Langlands, PHOTOGRAPHER

From: Dundee, Scotland, UK

Why am I part of Confluence? 

In a world beset by misunderstandings, false news, conflict and a general mistrust of those who are in some way ‘different’ - whether that be through nationality, colour, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs or cultural differences – I believe that building bridges is far more important than constructing walls. But Confluence is more than just building bridges, for bridges are fleeting points of access to other places. Bridges enable you to cross rivers without getting wet. Confluence requires you to swim, engage with diversity and immerse yourself in a way that promotes greater understanding and harmony. That can’t be a bad thing in a modern world and that is why I believe in Confluence.

Many of the great rivers of this world are only great because they are made of the waters of many smaller rivers. That is worth thinking about.

My Story:


I am a retired architect, award-winning photographer, photojournalist and writer who enjoys travel and music. In addition, I have always been involved with drama, the performing arts and the spoken word in numerous guises and I am a passionate believer in the power of these things along with art and design to bring about positive changes in people’s lives.

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Terje Nergard Nilsson, Photographer

From: Harstad, Norway

Why am I part of Confluence? 

I’m part of Confluence because I like the story behind every photograph. When you see a beautiful image you often don’t see the struggles or hear about what it took to take that perfect image.

My story:

I found my passion in landscape photography when I studied for my bachelor degree in natural resources and I needed a camera for my studies. Ive always loved nature and the little details you can find in it, and I wanted to start to capture all its beauty and inspire people to be in it with my pictures.

#confluencetheworld


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Name: thea madelen petersen, storyteller

From: fredrikstad, norway

Why am I part of Confluence? 

StorySquad received a message about Confluence, just two days after we launched our Facebook page! All of us in StorySquad were excited and curious about what Confluence was. 
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate in the residency in Morocco last Autumn, but finally I met a whole bunch of wonderful Confluence people this Easter in Scotland. I’m really excited to work further with this project and with all the lovely Confluence crew. I love to meet new people, to travel and tell stories, so this project fits me perfectly.

My story: 
My grandmother always told me stories when I was a child. She told me how life was after the Second World War and made up stories about Troll Anton. When I was studying Drama and Theatre in Volda, I discovered the art of storytelling. After getting my bachelor’s degree I moved to Oslo and studied this further. It was here I met Ine Mariel and Karla Suzanne, I already knew Synne from Volda. And because the four of us have many stories to tell, and want to tell them for a long time to come, we created StorySquad.

Image © Houssain Belabbes

#confluencetheworld


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Name: Houssain Belabbes, photographer

From: Marrakech, Morocco

Why I am part of Confluence?

Confluence is the outcome and fruit of a life vision. Confluence is an idea of living, loving, giving and admiring the beauty of differences. Social impact and photography have been always my fields of interest. Working with Confluence gives me the opportunity to combine both of them and since the beginning I have believed that this valuable idea will bring change and a huge impact in many people's lives. 

Confluence is my escape to myself, my spirit and my inner thoughts and inspiration...I am a Confluencer because Confluence is what I am. 

My story : 

Since an early age, I discovered how much I enjoy taking photographs and creating visual stories. I have always been passionate about contextual portrait photography, focussing on light and colours to shape stories around my images.

I used to be a photography teacher for adults at an Art institution in Marrakech. Today I am a professional photographer and video-maker, owner and creative director of MOVIS agency, a Moroccan visual service agency working with many international brands in Morocco.

#confluencetheworld