This week Art Refuge UK was working closely with our partners Medecins du Monde and The Hummingbird Project to deliver our weekly service in the camp. We saw many familiar faces return to our Open Art Therapy Studio to continue to create artwork together and build connections.
In the psychosocial tent of Medecins du Monde, a young man talked about his image of an uprooted rose; “It is still growing, still alive. If it is planted again it will continue to flower and smell sweet”. He shared how hard it is to stay strong and alive here in the camp, and that this rose hasn’t yet found a good place to set down its roots.
He remembered that at home in Afghanistan he had loved gardening and took great pleasure in growing plants. He feared that he had lost his touch with plants in leaving his country and in his long journey. The bad memories of his experiences have taken over, and now he finds it hard to do things like gardening and cooking with the skill and enjoyment he used to.
I have crossed an ocean I have lost my tongue from the root of the old one a new one has sprung
This poem was share in the conversation, and we thought together about the struggle and the time it takes to find a space that feels safe enough to put down roots again, and to begin to re-grow ourselves in a new place.
On Friday we worked alongside artists from the Charlotte Miller Art Project, and psychotherapists from the Tavistock Centre to provide a consistent creative space in the Hummingbird Safe Space. This day saw vibrancy and joy in making together, a “Meeting in the Making” day, with lots of playful exchange of ideas and techniques. Many of the young men attending the space worked in plastercine to create an array of creatures that they began to place carefully around the space. Many were placed together in front of backgrounds, made in response to the afternoon’s creations; these were carefully choreographed and photographed by the young men using the session.
A jungle band was formed, and a group of animals and birds were gathered together in front of an image made in the previous days workshops with artists. This place seemed to be the safe haven that seems so far out of reach to everyone living in the camp, a beautiful, natural world of green grass, trees and abundant flowers. One young man described the creatures as “arriving home”.
There was a sense of shared pleasure and satisfaction in the joy of creating and sharing together; as well as a clear recognition of the value and equality that these spaces bring. For people who are working so hard to stay strong and hold onto their hopes for the future, this is a place to pause on their ongoing journeys, we meet them in their search for safety and home.