Art: Bristol first provincial city to host major refugee show

Steve Wright, June 15, 2017

A major art exhibition, previously on display in the Houses of Parliament, is to have its first showing outside London in the New Room in Broadmead for three weeks (June 19-July 9).

The exhibition I Am A Refugee has been developed by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and design agency Coley Porter Bell, and celebrates the contributions of refugees past and present to life in the UK. It opens on June 19 to coincide with the start of Refugee Week 2017.

Three giant screens will tell the stories and celebrate the achievements of people who have entered the UK as refugees, including such well-known names as singers Rita Ora and Freddie Mercury, writer Judith Kerr, comedian Shappi Khorsandi, computer pioneer Dame Stephanie Shirley and 51 other famous and not-so-famous individuals.

The exhibition illustrates how refugees who have made the UK their home have made significant contributions to the arts, science, sports, commerce, industry and social care, as well as the communities they live in – and that each refugee has their own unique story to tell.

Sarah Marcus, communications director for JCWI, said: “The ongoing global refugee crisis means that now, more than ever, it is worth us all reflecting on how men, women and children who have sought safety in the UK have shaped our society, culture and history.

“This exhibition demonstrates how, when refugees are welcomed, they are able to thrive and contribute. It’s it’s great that the people of Bristol will have easy access to it in the centre of their city during this year’s Refugee Week.”

Louise Wratten, Community engagement officer for the New Room, said: “This time last year I Am A Refugee was being exhibited by St Paul’s Cathedral, so we’re honoured that the New Room has been selected to display it for Refugee Week 2017.

“The impetus for this fascinating project is very much in keeping with John Wesley’s message about social justice, and it is a highly appropriate first display for our newly refurbished exhibition space.”

The exhibition space is part of an 18-month multi-million pound project, partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund which has just been completed in the New Room – also known as John Wesley’s Chapel – as part of the Horsefair Project. It is part of a brand new visitor centre which also features a new café, gift shop and revamped themed heritage museum.

The free exhibition will be open continuously from 10.30am to 4pm, Monday-Saturday and 1pm-4pm on Sundays June 19-July 9.

For more information on Bristol Refugee Festival see www.bristolrefugeefestival.org; for the JCWI, see www.jcwi.org.uk; for the I Am A Refugee exhibition, see www.iamarefugee.net; for the New Room, see www.newroombristol.org.uk

Pictured: Refugee Melody Hossaini with her plaque

Read more: First Barton Hill Festival: have your say