Voices Beyond Borders


The images in this book originated as part of an East Midlands regional initiative between a number of arts organisations and academic partners. The programme was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Loughborough University. It culminated in an exhibition at the Bonnington Gallery in Nottingham. The wooden, painted panels, which are the subject of this book, were also exhibited at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.

Charnwood Arts contributed to this process in many ways but the heart of our contribution was the work undertaken with members of the ‘Dreamers’ youth group in Loughborough.

The Dreamers were established by youth workers in Loughborough as a means of meeting the needs of unaccompanied young asylum seekers who were arriving in increasing numbers in the locality. Many joint projects have taken place with them over the years but this was the first to also engage with adult refugees in an arts based programme.

The full programme is described in a report, which is available from Charnwood Arts.

Our work with Dreamers included support for them to engage with artist Misha Myers and her practice of ‘guided walks’, as a way of exploring displacement and to see the new in the context of the old. This enabled participants to explore and discover their ‘home’ environment in new ways and then to share the double consciousness of ‘home away from home’ with others.

We then went on to explore two parallel strands of work around the same themes, working through the mediums of drama and drawing. Regular drama sessions at our Next Level Cafe space with theatre practitioners Sarah Bailey and Gerry Flanagan resulted in a short performance piece that was enacted at the opening of the Bonnington Gallery exhibition.

The images of the wooden painted panels in this book were the result of a process that began through drawing workshops with members of the Dreamers group led by Paul Gent and Amy Edwards. As the conversations developed with participants they expressed an increasing interest in being able to represent their thoughts and experiences in a way that could be followed and understood by others. It was their wish for the lead artist to help them visualise this through his ability to represent situations in cartoon form. Each panel thus represents a conversation between a young person, or group of young people, guiding and explaining to Paul, what their experience and response was in different situations. The finished work, ‘I Had a Dream...’ was presented as a unified piece for the gallery exhibition and formed a backdrop to the enactment of stories by the young actors.

The youth work with Dreamers and our own partnership work with Mountfields Lodge Youth Centre, who host the group, resulted in a generous grant from the Baring Foundation to continue arts and cultural work with these young people. The resultant programme, ‘Here Our Voices’, has supported many of them to pursue interests and experience a wide range of different art forms as both audience and participants. This includes the publication of this current publication which includes a range of facts gathered by youth workers and young people around the subject of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.



Voices Beyond Borders

Voices Beyond Borders

Mon 18th February, 2013

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