St Luke’s Martin Poole tells us about their project welcoming sanctuary seekers: ‘For a Time’.


Hi Martin. We are delighted that St Luke’s is taking part in AOH again this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the exhibition ‘For A Time’ that you will be displaying this May?
The exhibition explores the story of the response of a coastal community in North Devon as they welcomed sanctuary seekers to their community ‘for a time’ and features photographs of the different experiences of that group of displaced persons as they adjusted to this new environment.

Toby Adamson, a photographer with years of experience documenting events and stories from all around the world, gave his time to capture these images.  These are entirely authentic – nothing staged or set up but genuine insights into moments of joy and grief, pain and connection.

The project was run by the Pickwell Foundation and this exhibition was created by them for two reasons.  Firstly, to celebrate and remember a moment in a community’s history that exemplified compassion, welcome and kindness, qualities which are not always seen as part of the story about asylum seekers and refugees.  Secondly, to demonstrate that this sort of response is possible in other communities. That we can all discover the assets and resources that are already present to enable a meaningful response and consequently be enriched by the experience.

Do you think it has specific resonances with experiences in Brighton?
Coastal towns, especially along the South coast, have experience of asylum seekers and refugees as they risk their lives coming across the channel in small boats or are placed in hotels by the Home Office.  These are often the front line in dealing with this international issue as people seek safety from desperate situations in their home countries.  We see this in our own locality with asylum seekers and unaccompanied children being placed in hotels in Hove and sometimes then disappearing, a sad outcome that has previously made the national news.  Those who come to this country seeking sanctuary are often seen as a homogeneous group and have been described by politicians as invading the UK and this exhibition seeks to highlight that these are individuals with their own personal stories and reasons for fleeing their country and what it means for them to be truly welcomed.  The photographs show the human side of the refugee experience and helps us to identify with them in their distress.

Also, you have an event taking place on Sunday 19th May, can you tell us about that?
The event we’re holding on 19th May will highlight some of the excellent work which is happening in Brighton and seek to make some connections between organisations working in similar fields. Brighton and Hove is a city of sanctuary and hosts a variety of different refugee projects and this evening event will be a chance to hear from some of them as well as from the Pickwell Foundation who have experience of supporting asylum seekers and refugees and setting up community sponsored homes for refugee families.  We will also have participation from a Brighton based group who have sponsored a family to live here.  Organisations attending on the night will include Refugee Tales and Voices in Exile as well as the founders of the Pickwell Foundation.

The exhibition will be on display during the evening and there will be background information about this project including a short film.  We’re also planning for some creative contributions to the evening in the form of poetry and short stories helping us all to understand what it means to be displaced.

What do you like best about taking part in Artists Open Houses?
We like that we can be part of a local trail and that people take the time to follow a trail to visit different houses and venues and explore the art.  It’s wonderful that there is such a variety of work on display and that visitors will always be able to find something that they like or art which makes them think.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Thanks for letting us take part again this year, we value the collaboration we’ve had with the Artist Open Houses over the years and it’s great to be back after a long pause due to Covid.

64 Old Shoreham Road, Brighton, BN1 5DD
On the Seven Dials trail

Free evening event on Sunday 19th May,  7pm in St. Luke’s, with contributions from Brighton & Hove refugee organisations.
Visit for more info.