“When I don’t have the words to tell you how I feel, I can craft them. That is why art is so important to me. It gives me a voice.”Maria Faiomy, Visual Artist
In autumn 2022, we launched our Voices: Art is Refuge project, celebrating the work and creative resilience of Bristol-based artists who are migrants and refugees in the UK.
Like migration, arts and crafts are as old as humanity; they transcend language and cultural barriers, opening doors to new possibilities for sharing and expression. Thousands of artists leave their home each year in pursuit of freedom, and while their routes and experiences are diverse, they all have one thing in common: their refuge in art.
In November 2022, we had an incredible month of the Voices: Art is Refuge installation in the Galleries shopping centre, visited by 1,342 people! From nine engaging and thought-provoking school workshops and two Ukrainian craft workshops, to an ever-evolving collaborative art piece created by visitors, we had such a positive reaction to the exhibition. Many visitors said they had never been to an art exhibition before, and they left feeling inspired, hopeful and enlightened.
Voices showcased the work and stories of migrants and refugees living in Bristol. Global Goals Centre Education lead, Manu said, “We want to engage the public into thinking about what migrants and refugees are able to offer, rather than the media narrative of strife and war. That is the core idea of the project – allowing people to see these peoples’ stories through the universal language of art and what that art contributes to Bristol and to the UK.”
One of our amazing workshop leaders, Luci, told us how much she loved running the Voices workshop with Elmfield school, “The children really engaged with the exhibition and were especially excited when Sherin Ali (one of the artists) dropped in unexpectedly. They produced some wonderful poems, which they took away with them to finish at school.”
Now, we’re offering educators the opportunity to take the Voices: Art is Refuge exhibition into their own classrooms with our engaging educational guide. The activities in this guide seek to explore the lives of six refugees and migrants who live in Bristol and found refuge through their art and creative practices. These activities will help your students to challenge and disrupt stereotypes, explore human rights and reflect on the place of creative practices in people’s lives.