BEAF Arts Co’s Seeking Refuge Project is a creative, collaborative project sharing the hidden voices of people who have been forced to flee their homes. 

This ongoing initiative works with people seeking asylum in the UK and young unaccompanied refugees, including people who have settled in Bournemouth, through regular creative workshops and collaborations with locally commissioned artists.

‘Thursday Threads’, one of the weekly meet-ups held at The Old School House in Boscombe, near Bournemouth, provides a nurturing and creative space for people to connect. Pilar Rizzo attends the sessions regularly and shares their thoughts.

The impact of Seeking Refuge

“For me, the Seeking Refuge project has been an unforgettable experience. It was great to tell my story and share it with other people from different parts of the world.”

Rizzo continues, “Each person has something to tell, each from their own experience, but in the end we are all looking for a place where we can live well, safely and freely.”

“The ‘Thursday Threads’ sessions provide us with a time to relax, to share and, above all, learn. I am always on the lookout for new and interesting projects,” says Rizzo.

The Stories We Thread exhibition

For BEAF Arts Co’s BEAF 2023 Festival, members of the Seeking Refuge collective have created ‘The Stories We Thread’. This large, communal artwork uses one of the oldest photographic printing techniques, the cyanotype. 

This camera-less process acts as a collage of images using plants from the UK, maps of people’s hometowns, countries and precious objects. Members of the collective have been sewing these stories together, embellishing them with gold embroidery, to present the stories and journeys of all those who have fled their homes and communities.

For Pilar, ‘The Stories We Thread’ was an exciting opportunity to blend creative mediums and collaborate with others.

“The cyanotype project is really interesting. It has kept my mind awake to the imagination; I’m enjoying it a lot. It is amazing to mix [everyone’s] creativity in a project. Each one presenting experiences, memories, families, our countries and our roots.”

Pilar continues, “I hope at the festival everyone can admire our work and marvel at seeing how women of all nationalities came together and opened their hearts to show a piece of our land, our families and customs. Perhaps with a little nostalgia, but with great enthusiasm.”

Find more information here.