Art inspires response to persecution and conflict

The Syrian Cedar tree is decorated with prayer requests in Liverpool
The Syrian Cedar tree is decorated with prayer requests in Liverpool

Two art works by Jesuit Filipino artist Fr Jason Dy SJ added poignancy to Liverpool City Centre in the run-up to Christmas. His Sites of Refuge sought to engage the public in topical conversation about displacement, refuge and sanctuary.

Fr Dy, who has been studying for his MA in Creative Practice in Liverpool, says he hoped to create sites that evoked disruption as well as meditation.

The project was comprised of two installations - both of them interactive: a Tree of Refuge located in Clayton Square and a Transitional Shelter built and displayed in the Baltic Triangle. After the dedication, which took the form of a traditional tree wrapping ceremony conducted by a Buddhist Monk, the public were invited to write their hopes and prayers for the victims of political, religious and cultural persecutions on tags and to tie them on the twigs of the tree. The 6ft Syrian Cedar tree was dedicated to those who have lost their lives whilst fleeing conflict.

Survivors of typhoonsThe Transitional Shelter by Jesuit artist, Fr Jason Dy SJ

The Transitional Shelter (pictured right) was constructed out of discarded and salvaged materials. Once assembled it visually reflected the shelters built by the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. The public were invited to climb into the temporary structure and listen to the continual sound of rain whilst taking a verse from the biblical lament Psalm 77 and writing it themselves on the walls of the shed.

Sites of Refuge was Fr Dy’s final European exhibition before he returned to the Philippines this week. In addition to the Jesuits in Britain, the installations were sponsored by Shed King, Mission in the Economy, Baltic Blessings and All Saints Parish, Liverpool. Donations are invited to the Philippine charity Task Force Noah for survivors of the recent Typhoon Kuppo and to Liverpool’s Hope+ Food Bank and Asylum Link.