Sanctuary Songs Arts Festival

Sanctuary Songs Festival of Creativity

A festival of creativity by sanctuary seekers and refugees for UK Refugee Week 2023



Sanctuary Songs, a festival of creativity by refugees and asylum seekers, organised by the School of Arts and Cultures, will take place in the King Edward VII Building, Long Gallery, Ex Libris Gallery and Atrium,  from 22 to 29 June. 

The exhibition Underneath, Within, Beyond features prints and a film produced by people with lived refugee experience who live in Stockton and Sunderland, working in collaboration with Skimstone Arts. Where do you sit? features photographic portraits of ‘ordinary’ people by Skimstone Arts’ associate artists Shahor Omar and Ako Ismail. Some of the creators of both exhibition will talk about their work at 1.30pm on Thursday 22 June in the Long Gallery.   

The youth charity Headliners – which works with marginalised young people to give them and their communities a voice through journalism and media skills – will also be exhibiting photography by young asylum seekers and refugees on Tyneside.  

Two charities - Rainbow Home and Tyneside and Northumberland Mind - will also present artworks produced by LGBTQ+ asylum seekers who are using creativity to explore their mental and emotional health.  Visual art group Building Bridges, who are working with Newcastle University lecturer/artist, Theresa Easton, will also be exhibiting work. 

A brand-new commission of field recordings made by asylum seekers while exploring Newcastle’s urban landscape will be hosted in The Arches from Monday 19th - Fri 23rd June. This is a collaborative sound installation made by The Resonators - a collective of people with lived refugee experience, with West End Refugee Service, Skimstone Arts’ Claire Webster Saaramets and artist Martin Heslop. Together they have been exploring the urban and natural soundscape of Newcastle, listening, field-recording and writing, to collectively compose this immersive multilingual piece.



There will also be a series of workshops for sanctuary seekers and people with lived refugee experience. All events are free and travel costs will be reimbursed, and there will be free food and drink for any attendees. 


Theatre Workshop! - Wed 21st June, 2 - 4pm, West End Refugee Service - Creative theatre games and short performances with Babylon Migrants' Project!. All ages welcome, no theatre experience needed.


Zine-Making Workshop! - Wed 21st June, 2 - 4pm, Hatton Gallery Learning Space, Newcastle University - Come along to make pocket-sized books using collage, drawing and writing, with artist Theresa Easton. For age 8+. All materials provided.


N.E.S.T Art Workshop and Exhibition - Thu 22nd June, 1 0 - 4 (drop in any time), The Boiler House, Newcastle University - Come along to join in with some fun art activities and add your artwork to our pop up exhibition. All ages welcome.