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Refugee Week 2024

Refugee Week 2024

This years Refugee Week took place from 17 to 23 June. The theme for this year was 'Our Home', and encourages everyone to explore what Our Home means to them. Our Programme was held at Newcastle University, Dance City and ARC Stockton.

We were excited to share what we had been creating with a group with lived refugee experience at St Peter's Church, our Freeflow Creativity Cafe, WERS (West End Refugee Service), and Skimstone Arts associate artists Shaho Omar. Working alongside different communities brought together a collaborative and diverse programme for Refugee Week 2024.

Take a look at our Associate Artist Ako Ismail's video where he has beautifully captured our Friday 21st launch event...



Friday 21st June  Newcastle University
XL Gallery, Fine Art Building (King Edward VII Building) NE1 7RU 

"The highlight has to be the celebration day .. Shirley & the Gang came up from Stockton and they were singing ... People right down the corridor miles away ..were coming along the corridor to find out what was going on, so it was a perfect way of telling everyone in the building look there’s this really fantastic exhibition come and see it…Another highlight was Ingrid Pollard who’s just finished a fellowship here at the university, a Turner price nominated artist, she was really struck by Shaho's exhibition..she said ..'it’s brilliant’. It made me think how important space like this is.. " Theresa Easton - Newcastle University

Shirley and the gang
Live music performance at 11:30am and 12pm

Shirley and the gang are a music band of hopeful refugees who love to play music and meet with Skimstone Arts at St Peter’s Church on Wednesdays. Together we make songs about what hopes and choices we have in life….or not. "Life is not Rwanda, life is to hope for a good situation where we can work and be reunited with our families. Life is no more war and to live in peace. Hope is to find peace in UK."

"It’s been a great experience to come and perform and share the message that we carry, it hit home and it took me back to where I’ve been and where I want to be.. The audience loved it, I think they enjoyed the rhythm of the music, they enjoyed seeing so many people from different backgrounds." Shirley - Shirley & the Gang.

Temporal;Visitations;Dwelling Place Exhibition
Meet the Photographer 1pm

Photographer/artist Shaho Omar has documented his own and others  temporary experiences of having to navigate what is ‘home’. He has personally had to move three times in one year and continues to live in fear of being transferred again somewhere else unknown to him. “Someone else decides about your life, your psychological and emotional stability and where you live.” This commissioned exhibition is a collection of photographic images of temporary residences, briefly or sometimes more permanently inhabited, reflecting his own narrative, alongside other asylum seekers and refugees in the North East. 

"Powerful and illuminating, full of life... Excellent music at the opening too and brilliant, moving photography. So very thought provoking." Audience Feedback.  



 With Windows Open Wide 
Audio recordings and installation 

Skimstone Arts’ Freeflow Creativity Cafe’s brought together a wonderful diversity of people, including residents in Newcastle and those with lived refugee experience. Together we collaborated and co created a range of poetry about the theme of HOME, which was then recorded at Blank Studios, Newcastle upon Tyne. One collective poem from Freeflow was made into a stand alone artwork using Letterpress with Northern Print.

"As a poet and rising poet looking to make a name here in Newcastle and globally, it was a privilege to have 2 of my poems ('Home' and 'The Camera Eye') get  featured in the With Windows Open Wide Exhibition at the XL Gallery at Newcastle University during the Refugee week 2024. It was an experience to remember. I saw many people come to the exhibition. People from different parts of the world." Lanre Sonde- Freeflow Creativity Cafe Member. 

Exhibitions and installation 21st June - 1st July 10 am - 5pm 




Dance City Friday 21st June
Temple St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4BR
The Seven Bridges Music workshop 2.30-3.30pm, followed by a performance afterwards

Members of WERS  (West End Refugee Service) joined us to create a unique music/ sound piece within the hour and performed it at the end of the workshop.

Inspired by the theme of Home we explored how percussive sounds and voices convey a sense of deep connection that we feel about home and the journey to find this in a new place.

“ It has been very happy for me. Today was a difficult time as I don’t have a home, but it gives me hope when we make a song about the future and show it to other people. Thank you.”  Workshop Participant.

Saturday 22nd June 2024 ARC Stockton 
Dovecot St, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 1LL 
Shirley and the gang Live performance at ARC Stockton 12:45pm.


Shirley and the gang performed again at ARC Stockton 22nd June, providing another opportunity for audiences to hear songs about what hopes and choices we have in life….or not. This was part of Act 1 of ARC Stockton's refugee week event. 




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