A group of young people (aged 19 - 30) from asylum seeker, refugee and migrant backgrounds who meet to explore their creativity and creative ambitions.

 

The artists are: Marlyn Lopez, Fatima Esayli, Raul Pena Gironand, Rémi Duangphrachanh,  Exgsosa Zubi, Abraham. O
You can read the artists’ statements and personal stories below.

The group is mentored and supported by a partnership between the De La Warr Pavilion, The Magnum Photos Foundation and The Refugee Buddy Project.

On 19 June, the Collective opened their Studio to visitors to display their work and launched a mural, led by artist Abraham.O in the rooftop foyer.  The mural will be displayed until 19 July, learn more here.

Watch this timelapse to see how they created the mural in a day at Beeching Road Studios.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Nour El-Din

I am Nour El-Din, I am 28 years old. I have 4 brothers and one sister. My parents are good and benevolent people who sacrificed a lot for our comfort and did not fail to raise us well. I love my family very much and I hope that they will be happy. I was born in the Syrian city of Homs, a beautiful city and its people are more beautiful. They are characterised by tolerance, cooperation and a love of goodness. It is home to those whose hearts are as white as the whitest of Homs houses.

It never occurred to me to travel before the war, because the conditions we were living in were normal and calm like any Syrian family, until the war came and we had to leave. I was the first to leave the country, but I was rejected at the Jordanian border, and I returned to Homs, and then I tried again with my uncle and grandmother, and we arrived in Jordan, where I stayed for 3 months before my family arrived. My circumstances were very difficult. The first month, there was no furniture in the house I rented. I only ate bread and water until I received my first salary. I went and bought some furniture and food to receive my family. My happiness was indescribable. Despite the changing and difficult conditions in Jordan, I felt safe and secure because I was with my family.

We arrived in Britain after five years of waiting. It was a very long and arduous day. Because of some complications, we almost got deported to Syria, had it not been for God’s kindness. Despite all the hopes that I had in my imagination about travel and that it was a lifeline for me and my family, the feeling of fear and dread about the future and what our life would be like here and the subject of language and integration occupied my mind. After our arrival in Britain, fears began to disappear thanks to the welcome, warmth and support we received from those responsible for our welfare and volunteers.

I aspire to enhance my photography skills and to be a famous photographer and to be able to convey people’s voices, feelings and beautiful places through pictures. Through the Refugee Buddy Project I have made a great network of people who support my photography; Fatima, Shannon, Colin, Rossana and Rebecca and this has given me a boost and made me feel better about myself.

 

When I take photographs of people it makes me feel so much happier. When I look at the pictures now, each one holds memories. I put my energy into the pictures and I can feel it when I look back at that image.

 

After 3 years at home, through the pandemic, not going out, I wasn’t used to talking or able to develop my English. My personality is shy and without the language it was more of a challenge. But going out and meeting new people through taking pictures gave me more confidence. I’m practicing my English and it’s a great feeling.

When I first moved to Jordan, one day I was scrolling on Facebook after work just passing time and one of those games appeared. You were supposed to click on a random number and it will reveal the country you’re destined to travel to, and Britain was the country for me! I will never forget that game. Thank you United Kingdom, thank you Hastings and St Leonards and thank you all for your love and support.
In June 2023, Nour is exhibiting the portrait series West St Leonards International at Electro Studios and The Dove Café as part of Refugee Week Celebrations. He has also been commissioned to make a new photo-documentary project about the Dove Café by the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, which will open there on June 20th and be on display until Sept 17th 2023.

Marlyn Lopez

Through my artistic practice I bring the richness of folklore and symbolism from my country Colombia and Latin America to the world in a method that fuses tradition with modernity. I live in East Sussex and create my art from my studio. Elements of folk art, fauvism, and sacred art blend with realism and abstraction to produce this unique style which displays South American icons, nature scenes, indigenous folkloric, and ordinary women. Just as art inspires many people, the women and rich cultural traditions of South America inspire me. Painting has been a part of my life since childhood and has now become the tool I use to express appreciation for and to up-lift the communities and cultures that have uplifted me. I use my art as both a space for expression and a tool for transformation. My paintings are a window into the beauty and depth of Latin America. Inspiring figures, activists and everyday women are given a place to shine among the rich colours, entrancing patterns, and elements of my art. Painting is the strongest voice I find for shedding light on the hardships people face, especially women, indigenous people, and other subjugated groups. Through creating art that celebrates people who are often overlooked, I hope to make a small contribution to spur on the social change that’s needed. My hope is to contribute to a world with more equality and appreciation for the many different people who share it and respect for the environment we live in.

Marlyn Lopez, 28

Fatima Esayli

Immigrants And Movements

The idea of my artwork was inspired by immigrants and movements. What will a refugee, immigrant and asylum seeker face by finding themselves in a new country with new people, customs, traditions and new laws, what are the challenges and problems they might face? Our journey is full of movements, including ups and downs and through that we explore a lot. The impact may be positive or negative and the experience is not black or white, it’s just the shades you make and you can change these. I believe that we can change the course of our lives for the better.

Fatima Esayli, 25, Artist and Graduate of Architecture & Interior Design

Raul Pena Gironand

Through the Lens of Hope: My Journey as an Asylum Seeker Photographer

In the midst of uncertainty and longing for stability, my camera has become my trusted companion and a source of solace. As an asylum seeker who found refuge in the vibrant embrace of the United Kingdom, photography has been my window to a world filled with new opportunities, connections, and self-discovery.

Every click of the shutter captures fragments of my journey, preserving moments that might otherwise fade away in the labyrinth of time. Photography has become my voice, transcending language barriers and cultural differences, allowing me to share my story with the world. Through the lens, I navigate the intricacies of this foreign land, observing its people, landscapes, and traditions.

One such occasion that drew my lens like a magnet was the Hastings Bonfire, a celebration teeming with energy and history. Amidst the crackling flames and swirling smoke, I immersed myself in the kaleidoscope of faces, capturing the essence of the spirited revelry. The laughter, the awe, and the sense of community radiated through my photographs.

Photography, for me, is an art of empathy. It enables me to bridge the gap between my past and present, inviting others to glimpse the kaleidoscope of emotions that accompany the life of an asylum seeker. Through my lens, I hope to inspire compassion, understanding, and connection among those who view my work.

In this newfound home, photography has not only granted me a creative outlet but has also fostered a sense of belonging. The act of framing the world around me has allowed me to navigate the complexities of my new reality, finding beauty in the mundane and solace in the chaotic. It has provided me with a platform to transcend my circumstances, to tell my story, and to create connections that transcend borders.

With each photograph, I invite you to embark on a journey with me, to see the world through the eyes of an asylum seeker, and to witness the power of art in transforming lives. Together, let us rewrite narratives, foster empathy, and celebrate the profound impact that photography can have on our collective understanding of the human experience.

Raul Pena Gironand, 28

Rémi Duangphrachanh

Losing a part of your identity by losing your mother tongue is a strange phenomenon. It is difficult to pinpoint when and how it all started. The loss of your first language that was so significant for you as a child, is too hard to understand for those who raised you, cared for you, made sacrifices for you. Writing this piece is a response to recent experiences with my own family in which new generations are following a different path to their parents: they are them, but their persona is not. This may or may not be a universal experience for anyone from a migrant background. Still, this piece has helped me to heal wounds. The ones you cannot see but that reappear every time when you come back home.

For anyone that recognises themselves in this piece, please write about your own experience.

Let’s start this conversation and share it with the community.


Compassion has never been a word that I heard as a child. It was a value that I eventually understood as I grew as a person far from my family circle. This year, the word compassion is the theme of Refugee Week. I wanted to incorporate compassion in some type of work, the form did not matter at first. Then, I thought about my own family, they were refugees. Refugees, another word that I have never heard as a child. The first time I saw it was when I was trying to find an envelope. I held first the carte de réfugié, then the envelope.

My dad was a refugee from Laos. Laos is the most heavily bombed country in history. I only heard glimpses of his past as a refugee who eventually ended up living in France. I wrote this piece to tell the story of someone that escaped terror but who had never had the chance to disclose their alienating experience. The Lao diaspora have too many stories that remain untold, they are worth being acknowledged even by a minority. Also, this was the opportunity for me to show compassion for my dad. Compassion for his past and present.

 

Exgsosa Zubi

There’s a charm in seeing a world that lives just a little beyond ours,

Patterns and structures powdered in the etchings of chalk and crayon,

The playground is our canvas, but there’s an expiration date.

 

A vacant sense of creativity resides, erased sketches and broken pencils.

Watercolours seeping out and dripping from the painting,

A paint stroke working harder for every brush that snaps,

The grip on the handle is firm and rigid.

 

You’re left with splinters in your fingers,

Red drops dotted across your hands.

 

The passion turns stale and bland,

an empty canvas.

 

So you’re left wondering what the point was to begin with.


A kaleidoscope of memories,

your mind unfurls like a lotus flower.

Stiffness in your shoulders slipping away.

 

In a field, the wind whistles past in your sprint.

Hot sun on your back, lollipop swirling in your mouth,

Other kids laugh as many flail and fall over.

 

Your chests sore from laughing and running too much,

as you dash away from taggers.

 

Deciding the last game ended in a draw,

Everyone is drained and curled up under a tree.

 

Heads are resting on the shoulders of those closest to each other,

some snore quietly and a few shift restlessly in slumber,

 

The trailing sunset peaks through the leaves above,

you drift off to sleep as if you are being carried home.

Exgsosa Zubi, 18

Abraham. O

Abraham. O Artist (1990) started in art in 2012 in the streets of El Salvador as a large-format portraitist inspired by local experiences and their surroundings. He has participated in different collective and individual exhibitions, also in different urban art festivals in Europe and Latin America, including Loures Arte Publica, Portugal 2018, Vision art festival, Switzerland 2018 and IV Biennial of fine art graffiti, Brazil 2018 among others. A multifaceted artist, inspired by the emotions and experiences of the human being as main point, childhood and the elderly adult who throughout history have suffered from the economic, cultural, social and political changes of the world, in general. It speaks of the core of human emotions, a permanent reflection on identity, on life in urban and rural societies in their environments, exploring themes between the inspirations of the individual and the demands of everyday life, using social realism as the main dialogue, within his proposal being this same cause and effect.

This programme is running alongside a sister project run by The Mosaic Rooms, London in partnership with New Citizen’s Gateway. The Mosaic Rooms (MR) showcases contemporary culture from the Arab world and beyond, and their Learning and Participation ambitions for 22/23 align with DLWP both aiming to support more young people to achieve and progress their creative ambitions as well as facilitating artistic workshops that support wellbeing in young people. New Citizens Gateway works to promote the wellbeing of young asylum seekers and refugees in London. The two groups are engaging with each other digitally and physically to share experiences and ambitions.