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Lockdown artwork by Asylum Seekers to go on show in new display opening at York Castle Museum

DATE: 16 September 2021

An exhibition in partnership with Refugee Action York  

7 October – 14 November 2021 

Works of art created during lockdown by asylum seekers in York are to go on show at York Castle Museum as part of an upcoming community exhibition focusing on the work of the charity Refugee Action York (RAY).  

The works were painted during the COVID pandemic by several of the asylum seekers who the Home Office had housed in a hotel in the city.  

The talented artists were discovered by RAY who regularly visited the hotel during the pandemic to distribute donations such as clothes and phones, provide English classes and help with the understanding of Asylum paperwork.  

The charity has worked with York Museums Trust to bring their work, their stories and the role RAY plays in supporting them to a wider audience by creating a new display at the museum.

Philip Newton, Communities Engagement Researcher at York Museums Trust, said: “We are honoured to partner with Refugee Action York to bring this exhibition to York Castle Museum. The work RAY undertakes is vital, and so it’s great visitors will have an opportunity to learn more about how they support refugees and what the processes are for refugees entering the country today. Due to the pandemic, the work has only been able to be displayed digitally, so it will be amazing to have large scale reproductions of the beautiful works on the walls for visitors to see in person.”  

Carrie Wheater, chief executive of RAY, said: “Despite being traumatised by their journeys and anxious about their families and friends left behind, these men have produced some beautiful and moving artworks. We are so pleased they are getting the chance to share their talent and stories with visitors to York Castle Museum.”

RAY was founded in 2002 and became a registered charity in 2009. The charity works with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from within and around the City of York and provides a safe meeting point where people can seek information and support, learn new skills and languages and form lasting friendships. Through providing this support they aim to empower individuals to assist them in rebuilding their lives.