A sacred space at St Paul’s Cathedral

Matidla, Anne-Marie and Han at St Paul's
Matidla, Anne-Marie and Han at St Paul's

On Saturday 27th July, refugees and team from JRS UK attended an interactive exhibition at St Paul’s Cathedral that showcased some of their work.

In June, 10 of our refugee friends attended a Silk Painting workshop at JRS UK's centre in Wapping. The workshop focused on ways to depict sacred spaces using silk painting. The activity was facilitated by Stitches in Time, an arts charity working with different community groups in Tower Hamlets. They were collaborating with St Paul’s Cathedral to organise the exhibition, which also included hands-on craft activities during the day.

Through sharing ideas, participants combined their work to construct a textile sacred space within St Paul’s Cathedral. The focus was on gathering, reflection and making. During the exhibition, all those who attended were encouraged to weave a few pieces of fabric together to ultimately be woven into a larger, integrated rug, fostering a greater sense of community development and solidarity.

Tickets to the exhibition for the general public granted our refugee friends entry to the whole site of St Paul’s, giving them the opportunity to explore the cathedral. Many of our friends commented on the crypt, and spent hours learning about the famous tombs and religious works of art. At 6pm, the Choral Evensong began. One of the member of the group said: “I stayed at St Pauls for Evensong and spent some time in the space. It was thanks to this opportunity that I now know that I can go there.”

Weaving at St Paul's

The exhibition was not just about different community groups coming together to see their work and participate in activities, but it also gave them a chance to relish in a sacred space, to explore and feel part of London life. The exhibition gave our friends the freedom to learn and uphold some of the wonders dwelling within the walls of St Pauls, offering them time and a chance to develop and reflect on their own faith.at St Paul's

At JRS UK, the refugee-led activities focus on improving skills, confidence, health and well-being by locating the skills, interests and desires of refugees at the centre of the planning process. In line with the centre's mission to walk alongside forced migrants, these projects are an essential ingredient of JRS's service. They are based on the belief that encounter, mutual relationship and community are fundamental to human integrity and development.

The arts projects are both fun and practical ways to help those made destitute by hostile environment policies. They encourage personal growth and confidence, and grant our refugee friends the opportunity to learn new skills and the principles of leadership.

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This article was first published on the JRS UK's website