Last September the forgotten land of Burma suddenly hit world headlines as Buddhist monks spearheaded demonstrations against the country's repressive military government.
A quiet revolution continues in Burmese art, long hidebound both by tradition and, in the country itself, by official hanging committees dedicated to preserving the status quo. Burmese artists working in the UK are free to express themselves on canvas, and examples of their paintings, drawings and mixed media works can be seen here.
Five artists are taking part, among them Htein Lin, who came to prominence in 2007 with his exhibition at London's Asia House of work painted in Rangoon's notorious Insein Jail. Htein Lin was a student leader in Burma's 1988 uprising before becoming a painter, actor and performance artist. From 1998 to 2004 he was a political prisoner, but managed to produce several hundred paintings in jail on cotton clothing, using unconventional materials in place of brushes to print them. The results were strong expressionist and abstract works.
Since his release, Htein Lin has continued to build on the creative techniques he developed while imprisoned. His latest canvases draw on his experiences as an activist in Burma and on recent events, including the Saffron Revolution.
Beyond Burma also features the work of two sisters, Khin Myint and Tin Tin Sann, who have exhibited frequently in London in recent years. Pioneers of the avant-garde art movement while living in Burma (Khin Myint was the first woman to have a nude painting hung in public there, and Tin Tin Sann one of the first to show batik paintings), they take very different approaches to depicting both the natural and political worlds.
Patrick Maung Yay has exhibited in more than 10 group shows and five one-man shows in England, and much of his works is with private collectors around the world. His work is increasingly influenced by his Buddhist beliefs, though he started out as an impressionist, like his master Shwe Aung Thein.
Self-taught Raymond Wunna was born in Mandalay but is now settled in West Yorkshire. "From my little corner, I paint what I see and express my point of view," he says. "I don't want to change the world, nor save humanity from darkness. I don't believe in political -isms, I only want to think freely, act freely and live freely. I didn't choose to be an artist; it chose me." A proportion of proceeds from the sale of art in the Beyond Burma show will be donated to charities operating on behalf of the Burmese people.