Just before the summer, SSF Chief Exec Ann Beatty was invited by colleague Evadne Bygrave to visit the exhibition ‘Thirty Six Pounds and Ninety Five Pence’ at the Ben Uri Gallery during Refugee Week 2017. The exhibition featured art produced during art therapy sessions at the New Art Studio by current refugees and asylum seekers.
Ann said: “One evening after work we went to check it out and I was amazed by the beautiful artwork and essential work Tania Kaczynski and Jon Martyn are doing to support asylum seekers and refugees. They are giving people a second chance in a supportive environment.“
Tania Kaczynski said: “The N.A.S is a place for asylum seekers and refugees to make undirected art together. It has an inclusive and democratic environment, and addresses the emotional needs of its members through the restorative nature of art making socially.
All our members are victims of war, persecution, loss of family, home, culture and language. Art is the universal language that gives voice to the silenced. We prioritise above all the power and freedom of human imagination; a world untroubled by borders. All the members continue to endure extreme emotional trauma manifested in anxiety, insomnia, fear and dread. Yet within their fragile sense of self is a desire to repair, learn and rise again. Our members’ knowledge of art is varied, most have never made art before, some have had some experience in their countries of origin. They come from Iran, Pakistan, China, The Ukraine, Turkey, and The Congo. Art making is more than a technical ability, it is a visual expression of one’s experiences. It unravels our dreams and nightmares. At any one time 4 or 5 languages are spoken at once, yet we all communicate within the context of the universal language of art making.“
Some of the wonderful artworks are featured, courtesy of Ben Uri and the Artists themselves, below, but to find out more about the exhibition (which has now finished) and the project please visit: http://benuri.org.uk/refugee-week/ For more about the New Art Studio visit: http://www.newartstudio.org.uk