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The London art studio offering asylum seekers and refugees freedom on a page

New Art Studio in London offers a safe space for refugees to create artwork looking back at their perilous journey and to escape to a ‘place of true freedom’

The New Art Studio in London provides a lifeline for asylum seekers and refugees. Art psychotherapist Tania Kaczynski, who co-founded the project in 2014, says: “When all is lost, imagination is the only place of true freedom.”

Here is a selection of the works created at the unique studio.

Let Me Go by Leya


Leya is a proud activist and fighter for the Kurdish cause. She was imprisoned in Iran and interrogated for her beliefs. She started painting at the studio and has a clear, painful direct way of telling her story. Bars in the windows and, in her mind, flowers on the table.

long journey by Wallid

Aged 17, Wallid walked to the UK from Afghanistan. When he arrived he could not speak much English and explained his journey by writing down the places he had passed through. Thirteen years later he is now a talented artist.

Cracked City by Shaka

The portrait is a metaphor for how Shaka feels internally. Cracked city outside, cracked person inside.

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City Lights by Taras

Taras shares his skills with the group, teaching and inspiring others.

Free at last by Reyhana

Reyhana arrived with her two-year-old son, 14 years ago. Her claim for asylum took 12 years to process. During these years she was not allowed to work or study, and lived with the constant threat of deportation, to a country where she would have been tortured, imprisoned or killed. She raised her son in a one-room hostel and through New Art Studio discovered a talent and love for painting.

Golden Path by Masi

The  Golden Path is a dream for the future. Masi escaped human rights violations in Iran – her crime was to join a feminist group.

Many asylum seekers and refugees who are members of the New Art Studio are in a very insecure situation, where they can be detained or deported at any time. For their security, some names have been changed.

Who Am I?: The Story of a London Art Studio for Asylum Seekers and Refugees by Tania Kaczynski, about the New Art Studio, is available now (The History Press, £20)

The Big Issue’s Refugee Special is out now. Get your copy from vendors around the UK. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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