Socially engaged art, art therapy and training
Art Refuge has had a presence in the UK since the charity was founded in 2006.
With its base in Bristol, we have started to expand our work into the surrounding counties and other parts of the UK. Namely Kent, London and through our online groups which reach people across the UK and much further afield.
From Calais to the UK
Two films about crossing the English Channel
This year, Art Refuge has collaborated with Young Roots and their youth service on making a series of stop-frame animations. Led by Tony Gammidge and Majid Adin. You can see a collection of videos below.
Since Autumn 2020, Art Refuge has been working in local community spaces in Folkestone, Kent, supporting men recently arrived in the UK and temporarily housed at Napier Barracks. Artist Aida Silvestri, whose origins are in Eritrea, has become a core member of the team, also leading on our photography workshops for young people in collaboration with Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).
Our weekly Folkestone project uses The Community Table model - originally developed by Art Refuge in Calais to welcome those who find themselves displaced - alongside volunteers, local staff, interpreters and visitors - to sit around a table and share spaces through art making.
HOST Hundreds of Small Tails
UK & France
Photography credit to Phoebe, Foster Carer and ROUTES/HERE group member.
Hundreds Of Small Tails - is a collection of small plasticine creatures made during Art Refuge sessions in and around Calais, Kent and King's Cross from 2015 onwards. Without direction or instruction, these palm sized creatures have been made by displaced people in moments of absorption and connection with others despite precarious and sometimes dangerous living conditions as they seek lives free from war, oppression and other forms of political violence. Once created, the creatures are usually always left in the hands of the team, and so they have made their way back and forth across the English Channel to regular art and art therapy spaces, where their small yet collective presence has inspired others to make more creatures in a visual call and response.
HOST was first curated and exhibited through the careful facilitation of artist Aida Silvestri, on the English border at the Folkestone Fringe in 2021, where the creatures were taken in by shopkeepers across the town, displayed in windows for the town’s inhabitants to notice, take interest in and begin dialogues on displacement, hope and resilience.
In the months preceding, during and after the original HOST exhibition, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Art Refuge formed an online support group called ROUTES/HERE for foster carers, key-workers and supported lodgings hosts who were living and working in Bristol and the surrounding counties with young people who had been displaced. This group invited HOST to the South West, and so, through simple acts of hospitality the creatures have been welcomed into the homes and workplaces of the ROUTES/HERE group, and their networks. Starting at the launch of the Bristol Refugee Festival the opportunity to offer a temporary place for one of these creatures is being extended to members of the public, spanning Refugee Week where we observe the theme of healing through the connection, symbols of belonging and hope that these creatures can bring. HOST in Bristol and the surrounding counties will finish in mid July.
HOST is being visually documented and mapped on its dedicated Instagram page @artrefuge_host where you can take part in and watch the network grow through collective acts of hospitality.
Taking place on the following dates :
6th, 13th, 20th, 27th
4th & 11th
More dates to be announced soon!
A new group starting in South Bristol in September... Watch this space!
An online support group for those who support and care for young, displaced individuals.
ROUTES/HERE; an online support group for foster carers, supported lodgings hosts, advocates and key workers. Their work that supports, cares, guides and learns from young people who have reached safety in the UK from Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanstan, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Syria and Kurdistan.
Inspired by conversations with the network around our art and art therapy groups with young refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol (2017-2021).
The group in its original format came to a close at the end of 2021, as the group wanted to change the direction and investment of their energies to a political-art project in response to feelings of hopelessness surrounding the fall of Kabul and the introduction of the Nationality and Borders Bill
Led by Bristol lead, Sarah Robinson and local Intercultural Trainer and foster carer,
Alison Clarkson Webb.
Invited by North Somerset Council and Curo Group, this open-access photography group is for young people in North Somerset who have experiences of seeking asylum in the UK. The weekly photography groups include a range of photographic processes alongside the use of other art materials and media, and focus on physical, geographical and psychological orientation, including walks using photography, found objects and mapping. As the core component for the group, photography offers opportunities for expressive freedom, playfulness and a sense of agency over the telling of individual and collective stories.