In October 2016 Artists in Transit travelled to Athens to volunteer and run art workshops in a refugee camp.
We worked with an amazing project called Project Elea who supported us in delivering our workshops to their camp community. Children and adults got involved in sewing, doll making, painting and drawing from still life. Some would come and go, creating masterpieces in moments. Others would sit in deep focus, carefully and mindfully working. We learnt that no matter how much you prepare for something you can never be fully covered so we faced difficulties and challenges, but we grew and developed with them. In our second week with the help of a local activist from STEPS we made contact with a self organised housing project. In a squatted hotel with over 400 refugees we spent our mornings offering activities to whoever was around. Jewellery making,zine sheeting and very adhoc photography lessons all took place, some days still life with a few adults other days large groups of excited children spilling beads all over the dining hall.
We left Athens having built intense relationships in short but vivid moments with people. We left strong communities of volunteers and refugees working together in difficult circumstances but always smiling, always laughing and relentlessly getting through each day. We said goodbye to young girls who's parents had sat and shared the un certain future of their lives. Women who had lost their childhood too arranged marriage now watching as their daughters begun to lose theirs because of conflict.
We want to thank everybody who shared and donated to this project.
Our first publication is now in the works, read more here.
Collection of my most memorable memories:
Children playing with stones and their bikes in the dust, chasing after them when they have ran off with a pair of scissors, playing sleeping lions with the little squirrels, boys sewing felt hearts for their mums very attentively,how sun bleached the camped looked when I first arrived, everything happening all at once , the chaos and the calm.
I learnt that everyone learns from art activities whether they participate for an hour or five minutes. The children throughly enjoyed themselves and at times were very engrossed in their work. For some children and adults painting expressed how they felt, often in the form of their country's flag.
Each day was a gift presenting us with the opportunity to build relations through the expression of colour, movement, paint and needle. Celebrating diversity through the creative workshops that ultimately aimed to transcend language barriers – creating a universal dialogue through various mediums we created a common language, discovering the vulnerability of life and the sanctity of friendship and family. I learnt more than I have ever taught, thank you for my experiences.