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  • Still from Crafting Resistance, 2018, by Carmen Luz Parot and Gloria Miqueles

Refugee week: 10 events celebrating émigré craftspeople

Talks, exhibitions and workshops around the UK

Refugee Week is here, with a nationwide programme of cultural and educational activities taking place from 17 to 23 June. We’ve selected our pick of the exhibitions honouring the creativity of refugee craftspeople, past and present. Keen to get making yourself? Scroll down for our round-up of free workshops and events.

Buttons by Lucie Rie. Photo: Phil Sayer

Lucie Rie: Ceramics & Buttons

This exhibition in York shows hundreds of buttons and examples of domestic ware made by the celebrated potter, who emigrated to the UK from Austria during the Second World War. Alongside these are pieces made by significant people in Rie’s life, including Hans Coper, a fellow émigré potter employed by Rie, and Bernard Leach, to whom she turned to for advice.

22 June 2018 – 3 November 2019 at the Centre of Ceramic Art, York

Yorkshire Sculpture International Street Party

To celebrate the beginning of Yorkshire Sculpture International – a festival of sculpture taking place across Leeds and Wakefield – YSP is holding a street party in Wakefield’s city centre.

Enjoy festive food, art and performances, alongside a showcase of sculptures by refugees living in the local area.

23 June in Wakefield City Centre, Wakefield

Origami birds. Photo: Shelanu

Urban Jungle

As part of an exhibition of jewellery, ceramics and textiles inspired by urban greenery are three collections by refugee and migrant women’s craft collective Shelanu. It includes a range of jewellery inspired by migrating birds and a series of rings, earrings and necklaces whose symbiotic forms point to the importance of personal connections and balance.

Until 14 September 2019 at Royal Birmingham Society of Artists

Culture in Crisis: Crafting Resistance

A screening of a film that looks at how craft contributed to the mental health and well-being of people imprisoned by General Pinochet’s military regime in 1970s Chile will be followed by a discussion about the use of craft as a means of resistance. The V&A’s wider programme for Refugee Week includes a session in which young, budding entrepreneurs who have fled conflict present objects and materials they have designed.

19 June 2019 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Grete Marks: An Intimate Portrait

Although ceramics and painting were of equal importance to Jewish refugee Grete Marks, who studied at the Bauhaus, she is best known for her pottery today. Pallant House Gallery in Chichester is mounting a show of Marks’ delicately hued watercolour paintings, offering a look at this largely unseen side of her practise.

26 June – 27 October at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Tent by Kate Daudy

Kate Daudy, ‘Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

British artist Kate Daudy, who explores issues of home and identity through written interventions, used a tent that was once home to a Syrian refugee family in Jordan’s Za’atari camp, given to her by the UN Refugee Agency, as a canvas to explore ideas of home, identity and memory. The piece has travelled to events around the world and will be on display at London’s Migration Museum.

22 – 25 June at the Migration Museum, London

U Litscher, Womencraft. Photo: WeWork #withrefugees

World Refugee Day – A Celebration of Culture & Creativity

The largest public display to date of MADE51, the UN Refugee Agency’s pioneering refugee-made artisanal product range, is the centrepiece of this event at the London office space, at which a new global crowdfunding campaign will be launched to help artisan refugees access new markets and supply the world's first refugee-made homestore.

20 June 2019 at WeWork Devonshire Square, London

Giant Dolls House

Collaborative arts project Giant Dolls' House have teamed up with Oxfam to create an installation titled Stand As One at the V&A Museum of Childhood in east London. It comprises a series of linked shoe boxes in which both Syrian refugees in Jordan and people in the UK have recreated places and memories that are special to them.

14 June – 23 June at the V&A Museum of Childhood, London

Photo: The Sudanese House

The Sudanese House

An artist’s interpretation of a typical Sudanese house, complete with artworks, crafts and music, is inspired by the stories of Sudanese refugees settled in Scotland. Traditional Sudanese food will also be on offer for visitors to try.

22 June 2019 at Barmulloch Community Centre, Glasgow

Friedrich Nagler: A Personal Mythology

The Jewish outsider artist Friedrich Nagler left his hometown of Vienna in 1938, fleeing Nazi persecution. Seeking shelter in England, he was deported to Canada as an ‘enemy alien’. However, he returned to the UK after the war, where he crafted a staggering quantity of sculptures out of wood, junk metal, wrought iron, clay, resin, and even bread – some of which are on display in this exhibition.

13 June – 17 September at Hove Museum, Brighton



Keen to take part yourself? Browse our pick of free craft workshops celebrating Refugee Week from across the UK.

Knitted clothes and blankets. Photo: Knitting for Unity

Knit for Unity: Knitting Cultures

Learn how to knit and practise new patterns with people from around the world.
24 June at Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow.

Shelanu @ Migrating Skills

Discover how to make origami birds, using the stories of refugees and migrants as inspiration.

16–23 June at the V&A, London.

Refugee Week Celebratory Under Fives Storytime & Craft Activity

Get your toddlers stuck into fun hands-on making at this children’s event.

18 June at Jubilee Library, Brighton.

Shelanu Women’s Craft Collective at Celebrating Sanctuary Festival

Create a transfer-printed keyring based on Refugee Week’s theme: ‘You, me and those who came before.’

23 June at MAC, Birmingham.


Get your knitting needles out and create woollens to be donated to refugees by Knit for Peace.

18 June at The Higgins, Bedford.

Welcome to the Museum

Help weave a map showing the story of Leicester’s migrants by adding your own family’s journey in coloured thread, or create a fabric toran: a traditional Indian sign of welcome.

23 June at New Walk Museum, Leicester.

Makers’ Market

Not in the mood for making? Browse crafts made by refugees from around the globe, ranging from crochet and embroidery to origami.

22 June at People’s Production Lab, Preston.

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