Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.

Maya Angelou, Still I Rise

From January 2017-March 2017 two of Brush&Bow members, Hannah Kirmes-Daly and Roshan De Stone worked with Borderlands charity in facilitating art and music workshops which led to a collaborative exhibition and music night featuring refugee artists, musicians and DJ’s. RISE exhibition celebrated the connections and solidarity between the local community in Bristol, refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK.

Rise Exhibition invited visitors to explore the personal viewpoints behind the statistics and headlines. Rather than focusing on the trauma or negative experiences, the artwork celebrated the diversity and uniqueness of individuals, moving away from the stigma often attached to the labels of asylum seeker and refugee. The exhibition also celebrated the contribution that people from all of the world bring to our local communities, and the connections between the wide ranges of cultures t hat makes up Bristol’s diverse community. This exhibition looked at connection between past memories and future hopes, and highlights individual perspectives on the experience of migration. The process of producing the Rise Exhibition has involved exploring personal expression and building relationships between Borderlands members, volunteers and artists. This was a two-way process. The street photography workshop asked Borderlands members to explore their first impressions of Bristol in their local communities. Various reflections emerged such as the difference in how animals are treated from pigeons to dogs, the confusion of traffic, the fear of becoming homeless, and the surprise at seeing blue hair. The images present views of a place both intimidating and full of exciting new opportunities. The audio recordings amplify the voices of Borderlands members and invite you to see Bristol through new eyes. Artwork and audio recordings for the exhibition were prepared during the twice weekly Drop-in sessions held at Borderlands in Easton; where over 400 people from around the world benefit from English and Maths classes, mentoring, advice, support and hot meals.


The Music Group made up of refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol, performed a variety of dance and music from the Balkans to Iran, Kurdistan to Sudan. Nabra, an oud playing duo also performed.


The launch of the Rise Exhibition was held on Friday the 3rd of March, opened by the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees. The exhibition ran for a week, and welcomed both Borderlands members and the general public, to celebrate the work and reflect on the personal stories behind migration.

The Artists

There were more than 12 artists whose work made up the exhibition. Here are a few of them

Mona, Iran “When I was young I start making art, maybe just collage or something like that. But when I was 16, I go to art school and I start art in graphic design. And fashion design at university. I study graphics in Sari in my country [Iran] and Tehran for fashion design. Some design just come to my mind, but this one is the girl in the prison.”

Habib, Bangladesh “Farmer family. Somebody working in the field. They are all day working. After they hungry and need food. This lady go to the field, take water. This is hard life.” …”Suspension bridge Clifton. I go too many times. I like this place, that’s why I draw it. I live in Bristol. I like Bristol.,”

Yousseff, Sudan “Before in Sudan I had a good life, with family and friends. But after, in my country—a problem with the government. On the left you see many animals in the hills. On the right they are gone—because of bombs. Before the mountains were green, after they are black. In the top right you see government planes and the army fighting with people, beneath are young people like me with no guns, but fight.”

Mandeeq, Somalia, member mentored by Bushra: The first time I came to Borderlands to meet my mentor, I thought it would be nice, because I would meet nice people. The way I feel right now, I feel like she [Bushra] is my sister. Always she ask me if I need something I am here for you. I always ask myself like why I didn’t meet her a long time ago. Sometimes I tell myself this is the right time to meet her. She is a nice person and open person and always happy and laughing. She an amazing women and I am so happy to have met her.”

Bushra, Somalia. Volunteer Mentor “I never thought I would meet another Somalian person whose has fled war and come here and is in a similar situation to me herself and has had the same experiences….This opportunity has provided me to havesome sort of closure. Because for a long time I have not been in a position where I have been able to talk to people who have had a similar experience to myself. So I think that provided me with some sort of healing for myself because you know, I remember the war, I remember everything what happened, when it happened. I remember everything. And those images are quite traumatic. It will stay with me for the rest of my life”.


About the Organisers

Roshan de Stone is a writer, illustrator and community worker. She managed the project and organised the music night celebrating refugee artists and DJ’s.

Hannah Kirmes-Daly is a reportage illustrator and artist. Her work uses art as a way to document individual and collective stories focusing on issues concerning migration, gender, development and refugees.

Joyce Nicholls is a documentary portrait photographer and filmmaker working with travel writers, NGOs, Human Rights Organisations and Art and Cultural Institutions.

Jazlyn Pinckney is Bristol-based artist and producer for community arts. She is part of The World is Listening, a vibrant collective created in the response to the gender imbalance in music. She hosts a weekly show on BCFM and reviews for Bristol 24/7 magazine.