London is one of the great arts hubs of the world. Art can be a fantastic tool of self-expression and can give a voice to marginalised communities. We run arts programming to give LGBTQI asylum seekers both the tools of self-expression but also access to the world of visual arts here in the UK. These institutions have so often been safe havens for queer people in the past, we want to make sure that members of our particular community feel welcomed and connected.
Running session like the ones described below for LGBTQI asylum seekers provides a moment of calm, respite, creativity, and gentle human engagement. These are all qualities that are too rare in the day to day lives of asylum seekers here in the UK. Arts sessions have benefits on the day for the beneficiaries who attend, but we also hope they build long term connections between our community and the broader creative community of London.
Ceramics workshop with Nick Sanderson
We were kindly invited to participate in a fantastic project hosted by Nick Sanderson at No Format Gallery. He has developed a project called ‘History of a Future’ which is a community pottery project designed to explore how communities benefit from migration. We built coil pots together in the spirit of many ancient ceramics traditions. Coil pots were a mainstay of the Beaker people who travelled across Europe sharing and improving the techniques as they went.
It was a beautiful sunny and hot day as we all travelled to south London and were welcomed by Nick who gave us basic instructions to create pots that wouldn’t explode in the high temperatures of the kiln. We coiled, scored, stacked, and smoothed our pots. Then we decorated them to express ourselves and our personalities.
It was a very pleasant afternoon and we got very messy! Our hands and arms (and sometimes shirts) were covered in clay but that was part of the fun. At the end of the day, we had each created something uniquely our own. Our pieces were glazed and fired and became part of the exhibition.
When the exhibition is finished, everyone will be able to take their pot home and have a beautiful reminder of a fantastic afternoon.
During this ceramics class a beneficiary expressed that they had never done anything like this before, but that it was enjoyable and freeing, and they hoped to do more similar workshops in the future.
Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern
A group of Micro Rainbow beneficiaries and staff had the opportunity to view the stunning new Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern this month. After having been separated for so long, as a community we toured the infinity rooms and explored the wonderful Tate building.
Kusama’s infinity rooms have been very popular on social media and stepping into them is an otherworldly experience. We were dazzled by the lights and the engulfing feeling you get when walking into these spaces.
The landscapes simultaneously looked like stars and cities – an astral urban infinity. It was amazing to step out of our day to day lives and imagine something completely different and beyond.
We also took the opportunity to chat, catch up, and introduce new members to the group. There is nothing quite like sitting together on the bank of the Thames, each of us from a different country and speaking a different language feeling like we belong in the heart of culture in the UK.
A beneficiary expressed that they felt calm and relaxed in the exhibit environment at the Tate, that it felt like a safe space to meet people and speak openly.