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  • By: Oliver Jeffers Studio, Anaka’s Women’s Collective, Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) and South Belfast MLA Kate Nicholl
  • Location: Thanksgiving Square, Belfast Waterfront
  • When: 16-25 May
  • Creative Me Profile: Community Connector

Seen – an outdoor exhibition shining a light on the stories of society’s most vulnerable.

In 2023, Oliver Jeffers joined a group of asylum-seeking children and young people in a church hall in Belfast for a magical day of creativity and storytelling. The young people were asked to draw pictures of their hopes and dreams, around which Jeffers sketched their portraits. The collaborative drawings give a powerful impression of what is important to young people who have fled other countries, revealing how they wish to be seen.

Fleeing conflict in search of stability, families who have endured unimaginable trauma now exist in a different state of distress. Patiently living in limbo, their lives on hold, waiting and hoping their asylum claims will be granted. Faced with temporary accommodation, language barriers and the difficulty of getting placed within schools, children are unable to grow, learn and experience life in a way many take for granted.

Seen was developed by the Oliver Jeffers Studio, Anaka’s Women’s Collective, Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) and South Belfast MLA Kate Nicholl. The Seen outdoor exhibition was produced by the Nerve Centre for Belfast 2024. The Seen exhibition will overlap with the arrival of Little Amal, a giant puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, in Belfast from 16-19 May.

During three days of activities, focusing on diversity and inclusion, visitors will be able to see and meet Little Amal at a series of free events. ‘What was striking was that the younger children drew of playing or toys. The older children drew a dream of an education or profession. Things our children take as a given… The way to judge a civilisation is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The reason most of these young people are helpless is because they are not allowed to help themselves. They haven’t been given the dignity or the right to work and education.’

Oliver Jeffers Illuminating lives between the margins, Seen declares that no child should be forgotten.

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