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Making Space Safe workshops are led by associate artist Mary Chamberlain with asylum seekers and refugees in Oxford.

These sessions teach artistic skills and create a sense of social cohesion for the group that includes people from around the world, referred by local organisations Sanctuary Hosting and Refugee Resource

Making Space Safe meets regularly in a private space at Modern Art Oxford and sessions are led by Mary Chamberlain. Chamberlain has worked for many years as a creative practitioner specialising in working with drawing and painting with vulnerable groups and individuals using some of the therapeutic principles gained during her training.

Artwork by Feng Gu


A creative response to the 2020 lockdown

The period of the coronavirus lockdown was the first time the group had not met in person since the project began back in 2016. In response to these unprecedented challenges, Chamberlain regularly posted art materials to participants to enable them to continue with their art making.

During Refugee Week UK in June 2020, Modern Art Oxford celebrated its ongoing partnership with Refugee Resource and Sanctuary Hosting and the achievements of the Making Space Safe artists in the face of adversity.

As well as sharing the group’s art works and words, sessions were ran to explore the brief of ‘Imagine Oxford…’ Run in partnership with Refugee Resource’s Women’s Group to coincide with Refugee Week, the brief was discussed by the group privately online together, resulting in a series of art works responding to lockdown and focussing on the group’s interest in drawing nature.

“Before this I had never drawn. I helped my children with colouring, but never drew. I would have liked to do more, in other life circumstances. I really liked the program as it helps you think and focus your mind on other things.” – Making Space Safe artist


Artwork by Making Space Safe artist

 “Guests have time and again expressed their enjoyment of the project to me. Now, every person we help with hosting is told about the project and many get involved and love it.” – Sarah Wahby, Service Manager at Sanctuary Hosting.

Artwork by Zainab Hussein