Just1Thing Exhibition

What one thing would you take? Exhibition created by asylum seekers and refugees.That is one of the questions being asked by an exhibition of photos, artwork and video animations created by asylum seekers and refugees on display at St. Mary’s Church in Dover.

8 August 2016

  • Display of artwork by young asylum seekers and ex-detainees.
  • Available to view throughout the summer until 10
  • Facilitated activity sessions with local charities engaged with refugees.

If you had to leave your home, what one thing would you take? That is one of the questions being asked by an exhibition of photos, artwork and video animations created by asylum seekers and refugees on display at St. Mary’s Church in Dover.

Called Just1Thing, the exhibition runs throughout the summer until Saturday 10 September and aims to share something of the experience of being a refugee, asylum seeker or migrant, and encourage thought and discussion on how people might personally respond. It’s been compiled by two local charities: Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN), which supports unaccompanied young people seeking asylum; and Samphire, a Dover-based charity that works to promote good relations between migrants and local communities, and supports a nationwide network of former immigration detainees. The exhibition is available to view each day: Monday to Wednesday 10am to 1pm, Thursday to Friday 10am to 11.30, and Saturday 10am to 12 noon. Guides to the exhibition are available upon entering the church.

The exhibition is inspired by KRAN’s #Just1Thing social media campaign which asked people to think about what one item they would take with them if they were forced to flee.  On display are some of the responses from the young people KRAN works with, as well as art and videos by the students  further exploring the experiences of unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people here in Kent.

Samphire’s displays show some of the work produced by young people who live in Dover.  Expanding on the idea of Just1Thing, Samphire also exhibit work by ex-detainees who were asked to explain through art the ‘Just1Thing’ they would like people to know about the largely hidden subject of immigration detention. There is a space for visitors to respond to the exhibition and post their own Just1Thing.

For anyone interested in learning more about the exhibition and refugee and migrant issues, three special sessions will be facilitated at the church on Wednesdays 24th and 31st August and 7th September between 11am and 1pm. These will provide opportunities for visitors to ask questions of members of Samphire or KRAN, and to engage more actively in responding to the exhibits.

The exhibition has been facilitated by the Diocese of Canterbury which is committed to helping its churches explore and engage with the issue of refugees in a constructive way. The Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, contributed an image to the original #Just1Thing campaign and said that opportunities to highlight the common humanity shared between ourselves and those fleeing persecution are vital: “It is very easy to become blinded by statistics and overwhelmed by the tragedy that is played out across our television screens. What we must not forget in all this is that behind each number or headline is a human being. We hold our humanity in common with each refugee and each migrant. Having opportunities like this in Dover to share people’s stories are vital, because when we make that individual connection we open the way to compassion, and a reminder that every human being matters. When that pathway is opened great things can happen.”

The Revd John Walker, vicar of St. Mary’s Church in Dover, said that the church was delighted to host the exhibition: “We’re very pleased that we’ve been able to offer this space to KRAN and Samphire in order to help give a voice to some of the people with whom they work. Dover is often on the frontline of the issues surrounding refugees and migrants and as a church in the centre of town, we are privileged to meet and welcome people from the local community and from around the world each day.  It therefore feels particularly appropriate for us to be able to host this display and we’re very much looking forward to seeing how it grows and develops.”

Caroline Browne, Samphire’s Community Engagement Coordinator, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exhibition at St Mary’s. St Mary’s is one of Dover’s top landmarks and it is wonderful that they are creating space to encourage thought and reflection on the experiences of these groups who so often pass through the town. I really encourage people to respond to the exhibition and look forward to reading what is produced.”

Ann Whitbourn, Chair of KRAN, said: “Our young people at KRAN greatly enjoyed participating in the Just1Thing project, in sharing their reflections and memories through art to help stimulate awareness of the challenges they have overcome, and to develop a common understanding between refugee and asylum seekers and local communities. We are continually grateful to the Diocese of Canterbury for their proactive approach and support in engaging with issues relating to refugee communities and the wider public.”

For more information on these local organisations visit: www.samphireproject.org.uk and www.KRAN.org.uk. To access a refugee toolkit, developed by Canterbury Diocese, offering five ways to respond to the refugee crisis visit: www.canterburydiocese.org/refugee-tool-kit/.


Notes to Editors:

 Images provided (information for captions):

  • Bishop Trevor: The Rt Rev Trevor Wilmot Bishop of Dover with his Just1Thing: his Cross of St Cuthbert’s.
  • KRAN display: Some of the art work on display made by young asylum seekers supported by KRAN.
  • Ex-detainee: A piece of artwork made by an ex-detainee sharing Just1Thing about immigration detention.
  • St Mary’s: Inside the beautiful and historic St Mary’s Church.
  • Just1Thing; One of the pictures showing Just1Thing bought by a young Palestinian refugee.