‘Belonging’ is a photographic exhibition created by Aline Frey. The City Library was lucky enough to display this exhibition after the grand opening at The Globe before some pictures were put on display at Square Edge Arts Centre to be part of a larger display to celebrate International Women’s Day.

‘Belonging’ celebrates 10 women, who like Aline, emigrated to Palmerston North. This exhibition represented women from all about the world, and showcased them as women, not the roles they play such as being mothers or their jobs.

All stories can be found on Manawatū Heritage at: https://manawatuheritage.pncc.govt.nz/collections/486e958f-767e-4b7c-919b-97aa9a8c5b41

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Aline Frey captures the diversity of Palmerston North City through the portraits of ten women from across the globe who have made Palmerston North their home

Belonging is a basic desire of all human beings. Almost all of us want to belong to a family, a community, a place, a country, or a nation. For some, belonging can be an effortless, automated feeling, but for others, it can be a roller coaster of emotions, challenges and experiences. Regardless of how different each other’s journeys to belonging are, belonging itself is a most beautiful feeling.  A feeling to be home. Through her portraits of women from Palmerston North, Aline Frey captures the feeling of belonging.  

Palmerston North City Library hosted the opening of the ‘Belonging’ photo exhibition created by Aline Frey in the Globe Theatre. The exhibition highlights the portraits of 10 women accompanied by their stories. The common thread that connect these women together is a sense of belonging, Hononga, and Pertencimento.

After the opening it was displayed at the City Library for 2 weeks before some photos were moved to be on display at Square Edge Arts Centre to be part of a larger display to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Aline was inspired to create this exhibition due to her own experiences coming from Brazil and comparing what other women do to feel they belong here. She wanted to find out from other women about their experiences and how it compared to her own, and to find strategies to help others in the community feel connected. She discovered people found their own ways to relate to their new environment whether it be from connections with things such as food, music or friends. It was discovered that sharing their journey, finding those connections and becoming part of the community helped them feel less lonely and isolated.

The generous ladies who shared their stories for this exhibition were found from word of mouth. Aline wanted it to represent every corner of the world. The exhibition gave the women an opportunity to feel proud of themselves and share what was important to them, their journey of finding Palmerston North their home and the shared experiences of belonging.

Aline particularly wanted to focus on women as themselves; not just as mothers, or teachers, or daughters, but above all as themselves. She felt sometimes women were forgotten about and were only thought about as the roles that they play.

By sharing their stories and uploading them to online heritage platform Manawatū Heritage it enables their story to be preserved for their Grandchildren to learn about them, where they came from and how they learnt to belong in their new community. She wanted them to be proud of their stories.

Palmerston North is a very Global community and the exhibition features women from across the globe.  Olivia from Vietnam, Flavia from Brazil, Natsuko from Japan, Megan from Zimbabwe, Jaspreet from India, Marylon from United States, Eunice from Scotland, Lai Bar from Myanmar, Doris from Nigeria and Poto from Samoa.

Aline said that “I am the photographer and the inspiration behind this exhibition, but to create it involved a whole community. Without the extensive teamwork it wasn’t possible. Leslie from the library and Maria’s support kept me going. The teamwork made it a dreamwork.”

These stories can be found on Manawatū Heritage here: https://manawatuheritage.pncc.govt.nz/collections/486e958f-767e-4b7c-919b-97aa9a8c5b41