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Leaving a stamp on Manchester with the Our Year Legacy Project

It’s half-term in Manchester, and what better way to spend the weekend than giving young sanctuary seekers living in and around the city an opportunity to infuse their day with art at Manchester Art Gallery?

Supported by Manchester City Council and Children in Need, participants Nojdar, Mohamed, Yasim and Sufyan joined Afrocats team members Estee and Vicki on the ‘Our Legacy’ project for a tour around the gallery – and created some art of their own.

The arts and creativity can have positive effects for young sanctuary seekers, who experience high levels of trauma, isolation, and inactivity, and the arts promote social connection, and the chance to use the imagination in new and innovative ways.

Having never set foot in the Gallery before, our young people broke down cultural barriers and were able to see themselves reflected in the diverse displays on show in exhibition pieces from as far away as Iran and Syria, exploring themes of migration, empire, and colonisation, as well as uncovering local artists such as L.S. Lowry’s legendary style depicting urban Northern life – and even sneaking in a selfie!

Kate Percival on the Art Gallery’s Learning team was also on hand to give our young people the background and context for the many pieces on show:

‘Many people don’t realise what community engagement is or have the confidence to ask, but the Manchester Art Gallery is for the people of Manchester – and it’s free!’

And painter Tina Ramos Ekongo also led an art session where everyone had to draw the person to their right (no erasers allowed!) which was to be placed in the Room To Breathe art display.

‘In Manchester Art Gallery, you see the kindness of people. They come with an open heart, and many people see it as refuge. No one judges you here, you just live the art.’

Our young people came away feeling happier, having engaged with new people as well as friends, discovered some new artists and their work, and left a unique mark of their own on the legendary Manchester Art Gallery.

See you next time for more artistic and cultural adventures alongside young people on the Our Year Legacy project.

To support Afrocats’ inclusive work in the community, visit the ‘Support Us’ page.

For more information about Tina Ramos Ekongo’s work, visit her Instagram @tinaramosekongo.


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