THE EMBASSY FOR REFUGEES IS A CROSS-ARTS PROJECT CONSTRUCTED AS AN EXPERIMENTAL TIMBER PAVILION
CREATED BY NATASHA REID
Commissioned to host Celebrating Sanctuary London, Refugee Week 2013. South Bank, London.
A SPACE OF SANCTUARY
A PLATFORM FOR PARTICIPATORY ART
A CATALYST FOR DEBATE
The “Embassy for Refugees” pavilion is the latest development of an ongoing, live cross-arts project created by socially-engaged designer Natasha Reid, who works between the worlds of architecture and art. Built as an experimental, sculptural pavilion to host the Celebrating Sanctuary London festival on the South Bank, it launched Refugee Week in June 2013.
Developed first through workshops with refugee children, and then in collaboration with engineers Arup, the cocoon-like space also housed the The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who presented their latest report alongside an art installation developed with school children. The unusual cross-arts and interdisciplinary pavilion will now have a continued legacy, transforming as it journeys through new contexts to create new installations further exploring the idea of "sanctuary".
EMBASSY FOR REFUGEES, CELEBRATING SANCTUARY LONDON
"The Embassy for Refugees claims a territory for those that seek refuge in our city. Can diplomacy be employed for the marginalised rather than the powerful? Representation for the misrepresented?"
Part conceptual art intervention, part public pavillion, the Embassy for Refugees pavilion brought together art, architecture, performance and participation with human rights advocacy. At the same time the development of the pavilion itself encompasses innovative design, engineering and craftsmanship.
The design was developed with support from specialist refugee arts organization and event programmers Counterpoints Arts. It was then reliased in collaboration with engineers Arup and fabricators Grassroot Gardens. With the tightest of budgets to construct an “embassy”, Reid engaged widespread support in order to implement the socially-led agenda. Developed in only a few months, the project expanded exponentially, drawing together a wealth of ethical organizations to realize the ambition of the project as a highly innovative, participatory pavilion.
"Natasha Reid, weaves art practice, architecture, design, human rights advocacy and participatory methods in this deliberate re-construction of the ‘typology’ of the Embassy building.
In creating this physical hybrid, Reid questions and extends the application of ‘diplomacy’ in relation to the global realities of refugees together with humanitarian principles associated with concepts of sanctuary.
Constructed and curated in the style of the public ‘pavilion’, ‘The Embassy for Refugees’ acts as both catalyst and mediator for a range of cross-community dialogues and happenings - functioning as both participatory learning site and public provocation."
Áine O'Brien, Co-Director, Counterpoints Arts