Open Door project helping to create links with refugee community, Museums Northumberland: bait

  • North East
  • combined arts, museums, visual arts
  • Helen Fussell


An exhibition showcasing work by families alongside professional artists opens in September as part of an arts project for refugees who have recently resettled in South East Northumberland.

Open Door is a new arts project helping to create links with the refugee community. The exhibition will feature artwork created by families reflecting on their personal memories and experiences of transition alongside three new commissions from artists Theresa Easton, Kay Henderson and Sheila Biggs.

Since February 2018, Museums Northumberland: bait have been working with the resettlement team at Northumberland County Council and the project has welcomed more than 60 people aged 1-65 years, working with six different artists across different art forms, including painting, sculpture, print making, drawing and textiles.

Northumberland County Councillor John Riddle said, “Northumberland County Council has recently resettled 39 refugee families who have experienced conflict which has destroyed their homeland and their livelihoods. This project has been incredibly successful in bringing refugee families together to talk, share their experiences and develop friendships while creating some fantastic artwork which reflects their personal memories and experiences.”

Jaziya Ibrahim is from Syria, and now lives in Blyth. She said, “We’ve been coming as a family. The activities are very good and encourage people to join in. I’ve met people I might not have otherwise met and we hope more local people will join the group. Lots of people have different skills here, so we can all learn something new.”

Moving to a new place can be very isolating and Home Office research* published in June 2019 shows that social connections and developing language skills can make a big difference. Several of the group have taken part in or volunteered on other local projects, including Active Citizens, a British Council training programme which supports people to set up and run their own social action projects.

The exhibition will be at Headway Arts in Blyth from 19-20 September, and at St Nicholas Church in Cramlington 26-28 September. Entry is free. museumsnorthumberlandbait​ ​