This Friday Portsmouth welcomes the return of Journeys Festival International, the UK’s first festival of Sanctuary, is going to bring thousands of people together to explore cultures from around the globe in the cities of Portsmouth, Manchester and Leicester across the same ten days from 15 to 24 October.
Over twenty fabulous creative organisations from all over the UK and 21 venues are working together to deliver the festival with the aim of improving community cohesion and inspiring hope and understanding through a series of events, exhibitions, film viewings and performances. With the overarching theme of welcome, Journeys Festival International wants to break down the stigma attached to sanctuary seekers arriving in the UK, by sharing and celebrating art and events created by and with community members and artists with experience of forced migration.
Twenty artists ranging from as far as Syria, Iran and Zimbabwe are teaming up with British and European artists to celebrate this creative and cultural exploration of global cultures.
Creative Director Lorna Fulton explains that “We aim to celebrate the people from the UK and all over the globe that come together and create our inspiring and unique communities. Now more than ever, we see a great need to increase acceptance and understanding in society, alongside a better understanding of mental health. This festival wants people to come together to explore the wonderful traditions and celebrate the creative talents the world has to offer. International artists will share their experiences and explore their cultures through a varied programme of events, exhibitions and experiences for us to enjoy and that is what the festival is all about. We want people to share and discover new art, new experiences and new cultures together with friends, neighbours and family, which is why we keep the majority of the festival free where we can.”
The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly ‘Where There is Light‘ by Squidsoup is an audio-visual installation that brings people together to share a sense of connection and hope. Illuminated globes surround the audience in moving patterns and colours, while a sound track – created by members of sanctuary-seeking communities – shifts around the installation with mesmerising sights and sounds. This incredible installation can be experienced at St Mary’s Church, Fratton, from 15-24 October.
We aim to celebrate the people from the UK and all over the globe that come together and create our inspiring and unique communities. Now more than ever, we see a great need to increase acceptance and understanding in society, alongside a better understanding of mental health.
The Global Kitchen Supper Club, inspired by a recipe book made by members of the sanctuary-seeking community who shared the favourite dishes from their home countries at community meals, is taking the project to another level: On 18 October, you can enjoy global pizzas with toppings taken from the recipe book and a Vietnamese street-food buffet inspired by the rice dishes from Zimbabwe and Afghanistan at Outside-In Food Court.
On 21 and 22 October, New Theatre Royal will host the brand new virtual reality experience Graffiti Art and Protest in Iran. Audiences will be provided with a virtual reality headset and transported to a water tunnel covered in graffiti art. With a hip-hop soundtrack to suit, audiences can then explore the urban art in an interactive virtual environment. The site in the headset is based on a real-life tunnel in Iran that became a focal point for political and social protest against the Iranian authorities.
Artist, Parham Ghalamdar, whose virtual reality project and outdoor exhibitions are featured this year, has worked on the festival before and says: “Journeys Festival International has been a major platform supporting and nurturing my practice in the past years. It’s an impressive event bringing people together to have conversations about important matters shaping our society.”
‘Reckoning‘ is a multimedia short film and performance piece created by a collaboration of Liberty EU Portfolio artists – Choreographer and Storyteller Akeim Toussaint Buck, Filmmaker Ashley Karrell, Animator Benedetta Fasson and Writer Mandla Rae. Weaving together contemporary lyrical dance, archive, animation and storytelling, Reckoning has been created from the Reckoning with Refugeedom archives which tell the stories of generations of displaced people in their own words.
The festival is featuring films, food, exhibitions in and outdoors, large scale projections, virtual reality experiences alongside performances and cultural experiences – giving us opportunities to explore and share together. From 15 -24 October across the city centre, communities are invited to join the festival team on their cultural and creative journey. You can find the full itinerary of events and how to get involved here.
Images: Benedetta Fasson, Tom Wren and Ashley Karrell Panoptial