Hear my Voice

A stunning, refugee art exhibition comes to Ely Cathedral.

Hear My Voice aims to give migrants and refugees a voice by sharing their experiences and perspectives through art.

The moving artwork has been created by migrants and refugees from Ivory Coast, Senegal, The Gambia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Ethiopia and Eritrea through a series of therapeutic art workshops. These workshops, which were held in Calabria and Sicily and facilitated by The Clewer Initiative and the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) through its Mediterranean Hope programme, enabled migrants to express their feelings about refugee life, the journey to freedom, their relationship with their host communities and their sense of identity.

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The exhibition is split into four sections – Safe Space Art; The Fence; Oranges For Justice and The Kites.

Safe Space Art collates pieces created to enable workshop participants to build confidence in their artistic abilities.

The Fence displays a collection of art by migrants and refugees that allows them to freely express various elements of their experience such as what they left behind, their journey, and their situation at present.

Oranges for Justice depicts migrants and refugees' susceptibility to labour exploitation, notably in agricultural production. The fundamental aspects of this exploitation are conveyed through text, poetry, and picture — the strength of profit-driven market forces that result in salaries so low that employees are unable to live with dignity or hope.

The Kites is a project that brings together refugee adults and children to reflect on their future aspirations as they experience a new sense of freedom. The kites display a blend of future hopes, physical symbols of identity, and the joy and dignity of being able to play freely.

"The Hear My Voice exhibition is utterly compelling for both adults and children. The artwork conveys such powerful messages about life as a migrant and it is impossible not to be moved."

Caroline Virgo
Director of The Clewer Initiative

Bill Crooks, an artist and workshop facilitator for The Clewer Initiative and FCEI, comments: “Creating art can help individuals discover feelings that have been lurking in their subconscious and that cannot easily be expressed with words. It can also help relax the body and relieve stress and build confidence and self-esteem. Day after day, as we led the workshops, we witnessed how the process of creating art can bring healing and a sense of solidarity and belonging, particularly when local children worked side by side with refugee children. It was an extremely profound experience and we believe that when people visit the Hear my Voice exhibition they will sense some of this as they engage with the artwork. The collection is both educational and inspiring and is a fresh way to bring the debate around immigration and the integration of refugees into our communities to a new audience.”

Jessica Martin, Canon for Learning and Outreach at Ely Cathedral, explains: “At the Cathedral, we have, for several years, sought to engage with the needs and experiences of those vulnerable to mistreatment and exploitative work practices, particularly refugees and migrants. Our hope for this powerful exhibition is that it will celebrate and show the human dignity of those who have been dispossessed and uprooted– in people’s own words, artwork, and beautifully creative variety. When we see each other as fellow human beings with the same kinds of hopes and dreams as one another, it transforms our common lives together.”

Caroline Virgo, director of The Clewer Initiative, concludes: “It is so important that we give refugees the opportunity to articulate their experience and challenge the many misconceptions around migrant life. We believe the exhibition will make a significant impression on all who see it and hopefully stir many hearts to show greater compassion and understanding towards refugees in their communities and beyond.”

Hear my Voice is on display in Ely Cathedral from Monday 24th October 2022.

After its time in Ely, the exhibition is available to tour the country and be displayed at other cathedrals. To find out more about booking Hear my Voice for your community or cathedral, contact clewerinitiative@churchofengland.org

Hear My Voice logo

Hear My Voice booklet

Read about the artwork.

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"The collection is both educational and inspiring and is a fresh way to bring the debate around immigration and the integration of refugees into our communities to a new audience."

Bill Crooks
The Clewer Initiative

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