Home festival at Ark in Cliftonville to mark Refugee Week

Women of the World Orchestra will perform at the festival

Refugee Week (17 – 23 June) is celebrated internationally every year – and this year, ARK in Cliftonville is hosting a full programme of events and activities in recognition of the contribution refugees and asylum seekers make to life in the UK.

The festival called HOME takes place from today (Tuesday 18 June) until Sunday 23 June. It includes an exhibition of work curated by the Araqa Collective, an organisation based in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon to empower marginalised communities through art education and culture. The Araqa Collective has worked with a group of 11 young refugees, mainly from Syria and Palestine, alongside young people from Lebanon, to create photos and texts responding to the theme of ‘home’.

On Friday 21 June at 7.30pm, Women of the World Orchestra will perform, featuring women from Iran, Syria, Palestine, Hongkong, India, Greece, Venezuela and UK. Some are refugees, and some were forced to move due to difficult situations in their own country. Their music is a mix of different musical traditions with some new pieces specially composed and arranged for the orchestra.

Women of the World musicians are all members of the Orchestra from Everywhere which played to a sell-out audience at ARK in February.

On Saturday 22 June, ARK hosts Asylum Monologues, from 3.30pm, a performed reading of interwoven first-hand accounts of people’s experiences of seeking refuge and the UK’s asylum system, produced by Ice and Fire Theatre.

This is followed by ZouZou Group’s –door open– from 6.30pm, which was made by two women artists, one Syrian, the other British, during the Syrian Civil War. For the safety of the Syrian artist, both artists are anonymised as ZouZou Group.

The 25 minute film is followed by a discussion with artist Felicity Allen whose work regularly took her to Damascus before the Syrian Uprising of 2010.

Still from NEZOUH by Soudade Kaadan_light © Nezouh LTD – BFI – Film4

The evening finishes with a screening of Nezouh at 8pm, Syrian director Soudade Kaadan’s award-winning feature film. 14-year-old Zeina and her family are the last to have stayed in their besieged hometown of Damascus. A missile rips a giant hole in their home, exposing them to the outside world. When a rope is mysteriously lowered into the hole, Zeina gets her first taste of freedom, and unimaginable possibilities open up for her.

The highlight of Sunday 23 June is Rutas at 12.30pm, a talk by acclaimed artist Studio Lenca.  Inspired by their own lived experience of displacement, Rutas is a space for individuals who have undertaken undocumented journeys to share their experiences, collectively forming an archive of an unrecorded chapter in the history of the United States.

Clowns without borders

Alongside these events are a number of workshops:

  • Hands and Hearts bunting making workshop – Tuesday 18 June (2pm – 4pm)
  • Clowns without Borders’ Silly Session for children aged 5 – 11 – Sunday 23 June (11am – 12pm)
  • ENCOUNTER, a drama workshop where participants can explore their creativity, in a safe, welcoming, fun and inclusive environment – Sunday 23 June (2.30pm – 4.30pm)

On Sunday 23 June, from 5.30pm – 6.30pm, the festival closes with a short performance from Azza, the Dalby Boys, with free Roma inspired refreshments.

HOME is supported by: Refugee Week, Arts Council England, Ice and Fire Theatre, Projekt Europa, Clowns without Borders, and Kent County Council.

ARK is based at the former Shul in Albion Road.



  1. Art and refuges in one article! Thoughts and prayers to Kathy Bailes as she moderates the comments.

  2. When the German NAZI’s bombed our road, my Mum and I became refugees, I survived the war although my older sister Beryl didn’t. This is why I support asylum seekers, and refugees who manage to get to the UK, and they deserve all the help they can get. Is there someone locally I can donate to Kathy for this project, that is safe?

  3. I’m descended from Jewish refugees to this country, though I’m not sure if the arty left approve of this or not these days!

  4. Wishing refugee week at The Ark much success. Perhaps one the events could be thanking the people of Britain for being so welcoming?

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