Return of the Soul is a remarkable artwork - a sculpture of 3,500+ wax figures - the culmination of the artist's journey, which began in a former Nazi concentration camp in Poland, and via many UNRWA refugees camps, led eventually to the pulverised ruins of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp also run by UNRWA in Lebanon.

Scottish artist Jane Frere lived and worked with Palestinian refugees to 'capture emotions', as she prepared her installation, incorporating written and oral testimonies from victims of the mass exodus of 1948, known as the Nakbah, or the catastrophe of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. In a co-production with the Palestinian Art Court - Al Hoash, she involved hundreds of Palestinians in workshops producing the wax figures which form part of the installation; the project was achieved through close collaboration with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the dedicated UN agency established to provide 'temporary' support to homeless Palestinian refugees 60 years ago.

Numerous requests have been received to host  the installation of Return of the Soul which need to be fully funded to be fulfilled. Meanwhile the images of the installation continue to fascinate many across the world and it is hoped help in  bringing a wider and better understanding of the context of ongoing crisis for Palestinians in Gaza and indeed in the West Bank, as well as UNRWA camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere. Curators interested in further information please contact Jane Frere and the Nakbah Project via:

Exhibition diary

May-June: Al Hoash Gallery, East Jerusalem
July-August: Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh
September-October: Shams Theatre, Beirut, Lebanon
October-January 22 2009: Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan





The Nakbah Project

Installation process filmed over a week at Balad al Shams in Beirut - click on link

Return of the Soul

What the critics say:  

"highlight of the Edinburgh Art Festival"

"a most poignant installation.........It is compelling art work that Frere achieved with aplomb."Ica Wahbeh, Jordan Times

"A metaphor for dispossession that works." Daily Star, Lebanon 

" it is right to be reminded of what we too often forget, and in the voices of the Palestinian people themselves, that the price of the creation of the state of Israel was tragedy for the people of the Palestine......The claim that this work is non-political is also supported by the character of the work itself. It is gentle and not at all polemical. It is also collective, not individual. The artist is only an enabler, an inspired enabler, certainly; nevertheless her own point of view is not what matters, only the truth of the stories enshrined in this remarkable work." *****
Duncan MacMillan, The Scotsman

"....this admirable exhibition sheds light on a little known terrorisation programme that must not be repeated."  - Paul Dale, The List review **** 

'One of the most controversial shows' the Edinburgh Art Festival." - Mike Wade, The Times

Return of the Soul - introduction by Dr Ghada Karmi from Neville Rigby 



Download "The Roots Remain", Jane Frere's reflections on The Nakbah Project in This Week in Palestine May 2012

Jane Frere's latest work - a large triptych called What is the colour of occupation? can be seen in a group show, entitled Passport to Palestine,  at La Scatola Gallery in London from November 22-December 3. See

In the Shadow of the Wall, a major series of works on canvas and pastels was exhibited at the Lang Byre Gallery, Aberdeenshire in November 2010. 

Jane Frere designed the set for the play co-authored by Justin Butcher and Palestian Ahmed Masoud - Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea, The production was performed at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh following its London debut at  Theatro Technis. 

Link to the review

Link to the Guardian review of the London production

- February 2009 issue