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Art Projects, ASPIRE - Asylum Seekers Pursuing Integration, Refuge and Empowerment

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Two successful projects based around arts and crafts are ‘Women In Art’ run by the Community Integration Partnership (CIP) and ‘ESOL Through Art’ run by Matthew Boulton College.

The Women In Art project delivered a series of workshops for women from Asylum backgrounds to Art Works work collaboratively with host community women. The Project explored techniques such as automata and contemporary textile design and furniture design, each delivered by a specialist artist within each field. S? Akhtar of CIP commented: “The work produced has been exhibited at many local and national exhibitions, allowing CIP to take the work toa wider audience and create a positive image of the work and Asylum Seekers.” The most visitedexhibition was Origin Crafts Fair in London, which has approximately 25,000 visitors every year. The work produced was very unique, resulting in Origin allowing a Community Organisation to exhibit at the Fair for the very first time.

At Matthew Boulton College in Birmingham, the ESOL Through Art project has also gone from strength to strength. The creative craft sessions were dual tutored with an ESOL specialist assisting,supporting and taking notes from which to generate further language work. There were also sessions solely with the ESOL specialist where poetry, drama and graphic novels were utilised. Trips to art exhibitions also provided a basis for language workThe creative aspect allowed the students to communicate through physical and visual mediamore directly than their English allowed. Involvementin creative activities helped reduce symptoms of stress or trauma which students were experiencing due to their circumstances as asylum seekers. David Lee of Matthew Boulton College was very pleased with the outcome of the project: “Overall the course accelerated language learning by boosting student motivation and confidence by allowing them to express themselves in a variety of ways and valuing that expression.


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