The March of 101 Refugees Project


James Foley at Potters Bar Open House in Kemptown tells us about their project The March of 101 Refugees, raising funds to help those made homeless abroad:

“We had an exceptionally successful Brighton Artists Open House at home in Kemptown over three weekends in November and December 2021.

When Fiona and the AOH team contacted the Pottersbarbrighton team of artists about the possibility of a pre-Christmas exhibition back in August, the nation had just come out of Covid lock-down and climate change had turned large parts of the world into infernos, floods and droughts. People were saying that we needed to ‘turn to a new normal’ after the pandemic. Consequently, we artists didn’t want to host a ‘Same-Old’ AOH, albeit with beautiful art. We wanted to investigate how art might contribute to the dreadful existential circumstances of the day.

We imagined . . .
A unique Open House, celebrating wildlife, portraying nature in art, supporting conservation, acknowledging the impact of climate change on humanity, wildlife and the planet – and doing something practical to help ordinary people whop have been made refugees by climatic events outside their control. 

We imagined . . .
International artists including Sophie Green, Jack Durling, Xi Zhinong, Susanna Brown, Filipe Brown, Allison Murphy, Serena Sussex, Aysenil Senkul, Michael Folkard and James Foley working in ceramics, paintings, photographs, mixed media – and contributing  to worldwide charities.

We imagined . . .
Involving the local community in a special project called The March of 101 Refugees, in which ordinary people (not artists) made figurines out of porcelain. These were fired in the kiln in stoneware boats and sold, together with other ceramic art by James. A total of £700 was donated to Refugee Action to help people in this country and Christian Aid to help those made homeless abroad. The interest, response and generosity of the Brighton AOH community was amazing. Thanks to everyone who participated in this project, and to those who work for the charities to help others on our behalf.

Despite all the worries about a new wave of Covid, we safely welcomed about 300 visitors over the three weekends and they were thrilled to join in our appreciation of the beauty of humanity and the natural world. The artists all tithed the profits from their sales to various conservation charities. So, not only did we have a lot of happy customers, but an additional £300 or so was passed on to help care for the vulnerable inhabitants of our beautiful world in these dreadful times.

Artists do have a valuable contribution to make in the international debate of profound issues affecting humanity. We always have had. It was a privilege to participate in that debate in a modest way at pottersbarbrighton in the recent Brighton Artists Open Houses.”