Artwork from Dunkirk Refugee Camp at Open Studios

Studio artists Emma Dibben, Elaine Jones and Liz Verde have recently travelled to Grande Synthe camp in Northern France, to facilitate workshops with refugee children.

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They worked with the children to create felt monkeys, box monsters and dinosaurs. They painted, planted and played with sequins and glitter, cuddling, laughing and crying.


The artists would like to thank all their supporters on this project. They raised £2000 before leaving to take to the Children’s Centre in the camp, and also took an immense supply of art materials, as well as pushbikes and plants.

Many thanks to Niche Frames, Jam Jar printing, Bristol Fine Art, Cass Art, PRSC and the Bristol Bike Workshop among others. Thank you to the Humming Bird Project who built Dunkirk Community Centre, and to those volunteers who stay day in and day out making all of this possible.

Maktab School is the heart of the camp and its existence is invaluable, there is very little for children to do in a refugee camp.

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“We do not claim that art will fix any of their trauma or heartache but we believe that the creation of a safe place for learning will indeed give some hope for the future.
It is heartbreaking imagining how much these children have been through, the horrors that they have witnessed and the perilous journeys they have made. Many have had to endure a hellish winter in freezing waterlogged tents in France, so close to our own homes. Despite it all, these children were so eager to learn, to be involved, and their smiles were a delight. The people that we met are just like you and me, they are teachers and engineers, doctors and musicians. These children are just like our children and they deserve the best chance that we can give them. The strong sense of community, courage and resilience at Grande Synthe is incredibly encouraging.”

In order to push forward the project and continue supporting refugees the artists have created a series of greetings cards from the children’s artwork. All proceeds will help support the funding of the school. The cards will be on sale at Open Studios.


Two of the children’s paintings have also been added to Jamaica Street Artist’s mini canvas auction this year. So come along on Sunday afternoon at 5pm and make a bid.

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About jamaicastreetartists

Jamaica Street Artists is one of the largest artist-lead studios outside of London and has been established for over 15 years. The studio is housed in a grade ii listed former carriageworks, an iconic landmark in Bristol. Jamaica Street Artists is a unique and ambitious collective, holding an annual Open Studio and planning an exciting programme for the year ahead. In the past we have held group exhibitions at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and St George's, Bristol, and individual artists continue to find success exhibiting across the UK and abroad. Over the past year Jamaica Street Artists has run a dynamic fundraising campaign to safeguard our future, a new lease has now been secured, but the long-term aim remains to purchase the building in partnership. Looking towards the future Jamaica Street Artists plan to build on their success, continuing to contribute to Bristol's creative and cultural reputation and promoting the work of its artists.

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