Home News New exhibition showcases artwork by refugees

New exhibition showcases artwork by refugees

A new exhibition at the University of Chichester has been put together to show off the creative skills of asylum seekers and refugees in the Chichester area.

Based on a project by local artist Kate Viner, the work includes embroidered pieces with messages of hope and courage, as well as Kate’s own sculptures of people who have sought sanctuary in Chichester.

Kate worked with the local charity, Sanctuary in Chichester, to create her own sculptures as well as providing creative opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees in the Chichester District, and the work was initially shown at Chichester Cathedral.

Each piece of embroidery has been hand stitched by a beneficiary, volunteer or someone who found sanctuary in Chichester after experiencing persecution based on race, religion or nationality.

She says: “A lot of the work I do is inspired by women, war, religion and persecution – human concern stories. This exhibition is all about celebrating human diversity, resilience and cultural growth. Embroidery allowed people to create whatever they wanted, be it written words or imagery. It overcame any language barriers, so it was ideal.

“The work that was produced was outstanding and the reaction to the Cathedral exhibition was beyond my wildest expectation, so I was delighted when it was suggested to me that part of the exhibition could find a new home at the University.”

Päivi Leivo, International Advice Manager at the University and organiser of the exhibition, said: “We invited Kate to exhibit her work at the university after having seen it at the Cathedral last summer. We thought it would be a good way to mark the start of our journey towards a place of welcome.

The University is now hoping to become a University of Sanctuary, a national network of institutions welcoming those seeking sanctuary by facilitating access to higher education.

Paivi continued: “Becoming a University of Sanctuary will bring recognition for the good work that we already do and embody the commitments that the University makes in our mission, vision and strategies.”

The exhibition was curated by Kate and one of the university’s creative writing students, Deborah Green. It was originally created for Chichester Cathedral and was made possible thanks to Arts Council Lottery Funding.

All are welcome to come and see the artwork. The exhibition is being held in the Learning Resource Centre (ground floor) at Bishop Otter Campus, University of Chichester, until the end of March.

For information about the University Sanctuary award, go to https://universities.cityofsanctuary.org/.

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