‘When Shadows Fall you stand beside ‘ Omid (‘When Shadows Fall’)

From the creativity and hearts of young people comes a new communal artwork, an outpouring of empathy celebrating the power of self-expression in a journey to healing, solidarity, and wellbeing this Refugee Week.

‘When Shadows Fall’ (Little Tiger, 2021) was published to great acclaim, is now in its third printing and shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Medal. It is the free-flowing journal of eighteen-year-old Kai King and his friends Orla, Omid, and Zak as they express themselves in poetry, prose, art, dance, and music.

‘An invitation to join a community… the book offers hope through mutual support and figuring out what really matters… I was moved and uplifted.’ Michael Rosen

Alongside the book’s launch illustrator and celebrated multi-Media artist Natalie Sirett commissioned her carpenter father-in- law Bert to craft a treasure box. In the ‘Raven Treasure’ box Bert gifted the foundations of a precious space, like ‘The Bothy’ in the story a rewilding landscape in which all young people have the freedom to express themselves.

When Shadows Fall in The Raven Treasure Box created by Illustrator and multi-media artist Natalie Sirett

Wishing to share the creative magic of their own collaboration as writer and illustrator, Sita and Natalie began dreaming up an interactive project as a catalyst to creativity; to inspire young people to journal, draw and write as the young characters do in the story. The result is When Shadows Fall Raven Treasure to which Natalie has brought her illustration inspirations of icons into an exquisite art object to open up the drawers of creativity and freedom through self-expression in the arts.

The first drawer explores childhood dreams, the second – the fire of adolescence and the third; the sky and a journey through trauma to the possibility of achieving childhood dreams of flying.

Early on in this journey Natalie and Sita were joined by Love Ssega, composer, musician, and environmental activist to hold workshops in community settings such as ‘Young Roots’ (a charity for unaccompanied Refugee Children) and The Migration Museum (an outreach project championed by Book Clubs in Schools). From these meetings of young minds and hearts Ssega has composed the deeply moving musical score ‘Migration Chorus’ for When Shadows Fall – Raven Treasure that was premiered at the Hay Festival 2023.

Natalie Sirett, Sita Brahmachari and Love Ssega at The Migration Museum with Book Club for Schools in Lewisham, 2023

The poem ‘Ink’ that forms part of the soundtrack is written and read by Dawn Sands an A level student Sita worked with as part of Portsmouth Creative Writing Partnership lead by Educator Bryony Hart.

This poem has been chosen from one of the hundreds of interactions with young people, family, and community engagements over a two-year period with schools and at Festivals including Edinburgh, Hay, and Young Adult festivals.

Natalie has lovingly curated the art, music and poetry into a digital exhibition formed from many thousands of contributions gifted to the ‘When Shadows Fall’ Raven Treasure Box. These generous gifts have been brought together to form one narrative that is an act of empathy and solidarity with refugee people.

Responding to Omid’s call to ‘ stand beside’ when shadows fall each submission is a way of supporting our fellow humans.
Sita, Natalie and Ssega and the team at Little Tiger publishers would like to thank everyone who has contributed so generously to this communal, creative journeying towards hope that strikes such a chord with the words of the Late MP Jo Cox: ‘We have far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.’

If you have been moved by this digital exhibition, please consider donating whatever you can to Young Roots a UK charity assisting unaccompanied refugee children.