Bath's Annual Fringe Visual Arts Festival
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Refuge: in search of safety

Do you ever stop to examine what makes you feel safe?

This thought-provoking exhibition gets to the heart of what it is that could make any of us seek refuge from harm, from fear, from circumstances beyond our control.

We all share a need to feel safe, and to help those we love feel the same. But in our stressful lives, facing an uncertain future, safety is often just an illusion.

Beginning as a response to the refugee crises of the past few years, this exhibition grew to include not only refuge from war or persecution but aspects which seem much more familiar: refuge from physical harm, illness, homelessness.

We bring together a varied group of artists, each of whom explores the theme in a deeply personal way. Between them they seek to help us understand what it is that gives us our sense of safety, or takes it away. Is refuge a place, a person, a state of mind? What lengths would we go to if this was threatened?

A dramatic exhibition featuring a range of media, from paintings and photography to video poetry, sculpture and stunning installations, it uncovers the humanity in our shared search for that feeling of safety.

Curated by Mike & Dona Bradley

Venue: FaB 2, 94 Walcot Street, BA1 5BG
Open 10am to 6pm - Sat 27 May to Sat 10 June
and 10am to 3pm Sun 11 June


Living rough

Homelessness has also been in the news.

Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show more than half of councils in England recorded a rise in rough sleeping compared with the year before. Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, told the BBC: "Behind these statistics are thousands of desperate people, sleeping in doorways, bin shelters, stations and parks - anywhere they can find to stay safe and escape the elements”. (

A new law, the Homelessness Reduction Bill, will oblige councils to step in and help people threatened with losing their home within 56 days rather than 28 days as now ( ).

In Manchester, a woman incensed at the installation of anti-homeless metal spikes outside a has covered them with cushions, after saying "the building owners are treating human beings like pigeons” (

What does ‘a place of safety’ mean to you: a place, a person, a state of mind? What difference does having a roof over your head make to your feeling of safety?

Through your exploration of the theme of 'Refuge: in search of safety' we as your audience can examine our own perceptions of what it means to seek, find, lose – or to provide – refuge.


Front page news

What a couple of weeks – the topic of refuge has been at the top of the political agenda across the world once again.

Most notably, executive orders signed by the new President of the United States suspended the US refugee programme for four months, banned refugees from Syria until ‘significant changes’ were made and halted the issue of visas to nationals of six other countries for three months ( The decision was met with passionate responses on both sides, with many supporting his hard-line approach, but others expressing vehement condemnation, leading to protests around the world (

Inspired to respond to what’s happening? Help us explore what giving or offering refuge means. What does it take to provide shelter, to offer a helping hand? Is safety a right or a luxury? Is offering refuge a duty or a burden?

Remember, the deadline for artistic submissions is Monday 27th March. See below for details on how to submit.




This is an open call-out for submissions from artists, creatives, photographers, sculptors, printmakers, architects, poets to respond to the theme ‘Refuge: in search of safety’.

Refuge is defined as ‘being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or difficulty’, but that definition gives us only a glimpse into what this really means. As humans we are united by our need to feel safe, and to help those we love feel the same. But our world is shaken by political upheaval and economic uncertainty and the impacts of climate change loom over this and future generations. Control over our own lives is often just an illusion. Would it really take a lot to take our sense of safety away from us?

For many, the search for refuge is a reality. The facts are startling.  

In the world today, 65 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced; 21.3 million seek refuge in countries other than their own. 33,972 people a day are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution (source: UNHCR). But it isn’t just those fleeing war who seek refuge: any one of us might seek shelter from harm, from discrimination. Shelter can be a physical need – in England, 114,790 households applied to their local authority for homelessness assistance in 2015/16 (source: Crisis) – or an emotional one – 200,000 older people in the UK suffering from loneliness have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month (source: Age UK). Stressful lives and uncertain times drive us to find a place we feel safe.

Why would you seek refuge? What would having no place of safety mean to you?

What does ‘a place of safety’ mean to you: a place, a person, a state of mind? A roof over your head or money in the bank? Family and friends or a stranger to talk to? A lock on the door or a gun in your hand? A sense of purpose or a sense of belonging? Safety from harm or safety from fear?

Where would you take refuge?

I want artists and creatives to help us understand why as human beings we are all united in our desire to feel safe, and to explore what this really means to us. I want you to help us explore too what giving refuge means. What does it take to provide shelter, to offer a helping hand? Is safety a right or a luxury? Whose responsibility is it?

Would you offer refuge?

Through your exploration of this theme we as your audience can examine our own perceptions of what it means to seek, find, lose – or to provide – refuge.

We want art that makes us not just look twice but makes us think twice. From the visceral to the personal; from the political to the emotional; from the painful to the cathartic.

This is one of the greatest challenges facing our world today: this is your chance to respond, to challenge, to question, to inspire. 


How to apply – the details


Please email your submissions to

Your submission must include:

  • For artwork, sculpture, models etc: a high resolution photograph clearly showing the work you would like to exhibit. For poetry: the full text of your poem.
  • Up to 500 words describing your work and outlining how it responds to the brief, full details of the materials used and dimensions of the work, and any specific exhibiting instructions.
  • Your full contact details (incl email & mobile) plus short CV or link to your website.
  • Photographs should be submitted as JPEGs, written files should be submitted as PDF or MS Word. Please include your name in every file name (eg smith.pdf).
  • Please send postal submissions to: Refuge: in search of safety, Fringe Arts Bath, 103 Walcott St, Bath BA1 5BW. Please include an SAE if you want submissions returned.


Artwork can be painting or drawing in any medium, printmaking (including digital prints), sculpture in any medium (or maquettes), glass, ceramics, textiles, photography, architectural drawings or models, poetry.


The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 27th March 2017. We’re aiming to make initial selections by early April and we’ll be in touch then if you have been successful.

‘Refuge: in search of safety’ will be exhibited from Friday 26th May to Sunday 11th June 2017. Getting your work there and taking it away at the end is your responsibility.


We don’t know where we’ll be exhibited yet—Fringe Arts Bath festival typically occupies ‘alternative’ exhibition spaces across Bath, such as empty shops, basements, pubs and other unusual venues as well as more traditional gallery spaces. We’ll let you know when we do!

How much?

It’s completely free to submit proposals. If you’re selected, there’s a £20 admin charge.

Questions? Concerns? Get in touch!

There’s more detail on my blog: or follow me on twitter: @RefugeArt2017 where I’ll keep you up to date with information, inspiration and progress. And if you’ve got any questions please drop me an email:

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