Provocative artwork at libraries gives voice to refugees

Provocative artwork by Turner Prize nominee artist Mark Titchner that gives a voice to refugees is currently on display at local libraries.

The artwork features thought-provoking text messages taken directly from the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK.

Titchner met regularly in Manchester with a group of fifteen individuals, all of whom had fled countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Zimbabwe to find safety for themselves and their families.

The creative project was originally developed as part of the ArtReach Journeys Festival International and the personal messages of the refugee experience give a voice and visibility to this community.

Titchner’s work often explores the tensions between the different belief systems which inform society.

The artwork was unveiled last week at Eccleston and Haydock libraries as part of St Helens’ events for Refugee Week and World Refugee Day (Wednesday 20 June).

The events, including a panel discussion led by acclaimed journalist-turned-author Vanessa Altin (The Pomegranate Tree), featured as part of the nationally-renowned Cultural Hubs arts-in-libraries programme. The programme is delivered by St Helens Council’s Library Service which is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

Vanessa was joined by Julia Savage from Asylum Matters and Emily Hayes, Co-Artistic Director of Pathway Arts. This panel discussion, with residents, partners and artists, was designed to stimulate a wider conversation and raise awareness about refugees and the asylum process.

A short video was also presented at the libraries that shows a work in progress by artists Claire Weetman, Sophie Tickle and SOLA ARTS, who are currently working with asylum seekers in St Helens to produce a visual, digital and movement artwork called Maze of Displacement.For more information on the project, visit

Jane Beardsworth, Director North for Arts Council England, said: “St Helens Council Library Service is a welcome addition to our 2018-22 National Portfolio. I am impressed by their plans to mark Refugee Week. I hope that the works by renowned artist Mark Titchner will encourage visitors to reflect on the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers and what it means to be displaced from home.”

Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Based and Focused Services, said: “Our Library Service is one of only six such services nationwide to achieve the prestigious Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status, and events like this demonstrate why we’re considered among the best in the country at opening up a fantastic range of arts events to the public.

“This thought-provoking artwork follows on from a really engaging and interesting discussion on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers – one of the most momentous issues facing the world today. I’d encourage residents to come and view it.”

The artwork is on display at Haydock and Eccleston libraries until 2 July.


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