Creative Space focuses on the role of the arts and culture in the context of human insecurity and forced displacement, and centralises its broad connection to psychosocial care.


    The arts has the ability to transcend traditional approaches to trauma intervention, providing alternative mediums for opening up creative safe spaces for positive transformation and healing.

    Alongside creative therapy, we feature the stories and work of our partners, many of whom have been directly impacted by displacement or social-political violence.


  • art therapy

    Showcasing the work of art therapists around the world opening up creative safe spaces for healing after trauma and displacement.


    Benjamin Swatez is a world-traveled artist specialising in outreach art therapy projects for at-risk individuals who face or are healing from extreme adversity including: slaves, HIV youth, child soldiers, street youth, orphans from massacre, and human/sex trafficking victims. Together with these groups, Benjamin has painted murals in 15 countries. His personal works have been featured in 56 international art exhibitions and 11 museum shows across the globe.



    Robert Markey is a global artist working with vulnerable children and youths to combat trauma through painting and mural art.


    Since 2007, Anne van den Ouwelant has been working as an art therapist with traumatised children and youngsters in the Netherlands and abroad. Since 2010 Anne has been developing and coordinating projects on psychosocial support in countries affected by war and conflict. She provides on the spot training in art therapy and trauma support to local workers and is specialised in trauma caused by (drug related) violence in South America.


    Self-taught artist photographer for the last 25 years, Patrick Willocq's passion for travel, discovery, and learning about different cultures, his desire to document the realities that he has witnessed since childhood have been closely intertwined. In 2012, and following a trip back to the Congo, he decided to devote himself entirely to art photograph. Through his work, he wants to offer a different image of the Congo and Africa in general, and go beyond images of war which media tend to focus on.

    'What Happened (The Past)' - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

    Walaa, 11, left Syria with her pregnant mother because airstrikes had blown up all the hospitals, schools and supermarkets in the area. They had no access to food, water or health services - everything they needed to survive. One day, as she was walking home, Walaa saw her school explode before her eyes, as shells landed on the buildings. She could smell burning and heard the sound of plane engines as they flew low overhead.

    This image uses an original drawing created by Walaa to tell the story of the moment her school was bombed. Walaa's drawing has been re-created and enlarged into a 3D tableau, using props made by children in the camp. Walaa says, "the aircraft targeted the school with rockets. I thought my uncles had been killed and I cried." Many Syrian refugee children experience first-hand the devastating impact of airstrikes on homes and schools.

    'Education' - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

    Hatem, 15, has spent four years in the camp. He initially went to school for two years, but had to stop as his family had no money to carry on his education. He used to love school and his favourite subjects were Maths, English and Arabic. Hatem had planned to go to university and join the army but now those dreams are all gone.

    He said he is "sad and scared' about his destiny. "When I was in Syria, I saw my school getting hit by an airstrike. I was scared that my house would be targeted. We fled the shelling and came here. Now that i am in Lebanon, I will not become a teacher. There are schools here but we don't have money to pay the tuition and continue studying. Education is important. You can become a teacher at a school instead of working as a porter and getting a lot of physical pain. Because I am working now and I have been off school for 3 years, I have missed a lot of studying and won't be able to fill the gap". He now sells clothes at a Souk in a market and practices Dabke dance in the camp to keep himself busy.

    'CFS, an oasis' - Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania.

    Children in the Nyarugusu Camp for refugees from Burundi show some of the different ways they play and express themselves in Save the Children’s 'Child Friendly Spaces' in the camp. Jacob, 15 (center), dreams of becoming a professional dancer, and has danced in public as a way to earn money for himself and his family. When he realized that it was time to leave Burundi for his own safety, he performed dance routines in his local town market until he earned enough money to pay for transport for himself and his grandparents to travel across the border to Tanzania. Jacob said, “I feel good about myself when I dance. I feel that dancing will help me achieve my goals in life.”

    For many children, Save The Children's Child Friendly Spaces are an oasis and act as the only safe place in the camp. One parent described how the space had helped her daughter, saying, "I see improvement now that she comes to the CFS. She is socialising again with other children." The image here depicts the CSF as a cocoon, protecting children from the harsh reality of camp life.

    'Firewood Collection' - Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania.

    Esperanse, 15 , shows here what it is like for young girls and women to search for firewood in the forest surrounding Nyarugusu refugee camp. Many young girls and children are sent to collect firewood to enable their families to cook food that is distributed to them by aid agencies. Though a forbidden practice, it is an essential means for basic survival. A few families also sell surplus wood as a means of generating income.

    Women and children venturing into the woods face many dangers, including assault - one of the main problems for children in the Nyarugusu camp. On one occasion, Esperanse herself narrowly escaped abuse at the hands of three men. “There are a lot of dangers that come when we go looking for firewood,” says Esperanse. “We can get snakebites, or even encounter men who want to abuse us. Even if we’re able to escape and run away we have to throw down all our firewood and we lose what we came for. My wish for the future is to have a place where I can live peacefully, a place where i can feel established, where i can feel that i'm at home, without all of these other problems".

    The trees in this image appear scary and menacing to reflect the danger and potential violence children are exposed to.

    'Our Dream' - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

    Zeina, 11 (right) and Samira, 10 (left) are best friends and appear in a tableau that depicts their future dreams. Zeina wants to be an artist and Samira would like to be an actress. They are both inspired by TV cartoons such as Cinderella. Both girls left Syria with their familes due to increased violence and shelling in their areas. The house next to Samira's in Syria was shelled, killing the family next door. Samira says "the worst things were the planes and the shelling. When the planes came we were scared that they would hit us. In Syria, when we got snow or wind it was OK. But here, when the wind blows we get a bit scared, as we're afraid the tent will get blown away".

    'Child Labour' - Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

    (Left to right) Bassam 12, Tamer 11, Lubna 16 and Farah 11, pose in a picture that depicts their experiences working. Many Syrian children in the Anjar refugee camp in Lebanon are forced to work to help support their families. Bassam and Tamer both sell tissues for a living after a wall fell on their father's leg during shelling in Syria, rendering him unable to work. They often work for 12 hours a day, earning on average just $3. Both brothers have faced abuse whilst working.


    Many girls also work in factories peeling oranges to make tinned fruit, often working 7am to 6pm, earning as little as $8 a day. Children who work miss schooling in order to support their families. Lubna says "education is very important. I feel it is especially important for girls. When girls get education, they are respected in society. Some girls even have jobs in factories. They shouldn't be working - they should be studying".

    The bright background of the image reflects the common practice of using old advertising flex to cover refugee tents to make them waterproof. This acts as an interesting juxtaposition between child labour and the branded products that might be produced.


    Worldwide Tribe celebrates the endurance of refugees through sport, dance and music in Calais and Dunkirk.

    Football Beyond Borders

    The Liberté Cup was more than just a football tournament for refugees in Dunkirk.

    It broke down stereotypes. It brought together people from all over Europe. It gave people something to look forward to. It allowed them to shed the label 'refugee'. It signified hope.

    If we can play together, why can't we live together?

    This film highlights the run up to our first Liberte Cup event. The Liberte Cup unites people regardless of nationality, culture, religion or race. Football has no borders and we will continue to use this amazing sport to change the way refugees are perceived in the media.

    Pokemon Go in Calais Camp

    The Worldwide Tribe took Pokemon Go to Calais camp to introduce the game to people there and understand the boredom that follows many of them around in a chronically understimulated environment.

    Still They Dance

    Afghan refugees dancing beautifully in the final days of the Calais camp.

    Music Without Borders

    Music knows no borders.
    Music unites us all, provides an escape from even the worst situation and brings people together from all walks of life.


    From the Sudanese guys loving Bob Marley and Craig David, to the Afghans making their own instruments from bits of recycled wood, tin and an old piece of pipe, music is a language we all understand.

    We are all the same and the world is our home, and we should share it accordingly.


  • voices of the children

    Voices of the Children pair teens around the world in collaborative arts projects to shine a spotlight on humanitarian crisis, promote social advocacy and inspire positive change.


    Jeremiah Moreno on set in Edison, Washington for "Welcome to My House" music video. Photo by Glen Shackley.

    On set in Za'atari refugee camp, Jordan for "Welcome to My House" music video.

    Luc and the Lovingtons on set for "Welcome to My House" music video with Voices of the Children.



    Luc from Luc and the Lovingtons on set in Za'atari refugeee camp for "Welcome to My House" music video.



    A collaboration between Voices of the Children and Luc and the Lovingtons, “Welcome to My House” features American teens and Syrian refugee youth with a cross-cultural message of joy, love and peace. The video was filmed in the Skagit Valley of Washington State, as well as sites in Jordan including the Za’atari Refugee Camp and Wadi Rum, showcasing the beauty of each location and welcoming all to their respective homes.


    Aqaba mural with Jordanian special needs youth as part of Voices of the Children's, "Colors of Love" workshop.

    Aqaba mural with Jordanian special needs youth as part of Voices of the Children's, "Colors of Love" workshop.

    Art therapy is an essential social service support, especially in environments facing extreme adversity, that provides a safe, trusting environment for the development of healthy communication skills, serving as a positive outlet to release the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


    The Colors of Love Art Therapy program is led by project director, Benjamin Swatez


    Parkour, also known as “free running,” is a style of acrobatic traversing through physical obstacles to reach an end point while using no additional aid or equipment.


    In 2005, the Gaza Parkour Team was founded by Abdullah Anshasi and Muhammed Aljkhbeir who teach the sport to disadvantaged youths in Gaza: .“Parkour gives us a sense of freedom and allows us to endure these conditions without getting deeply depressed."


    Founded by Jamil Shirzad, Kabul Boys Parkour is Afghanistan's first parkour group using the stunning terrain of a country torn by war.


    Justin Bighetty and Anthony Francois are two parkour teens on the Pukatawagan reserve, part of the Mathias Colomb First Nation, in Manitoba, Canada.




    The Native and the Refugee is a multi-media project profiling the spaces of the Indian reservation and Palestinian refugee camp: spaces of exception whose position in the struggle for native and Palestinian autonomy are essential. The Native and the Refugee will culminate in a feature-length documentary film.


    The camps are the core of the Palestinian struggle: the birthplace of both Intifadas; the original power base of the Palestine Liberation Organization; the living reminder of the “right to return”; and the place where the contradictions that underlie Palestinian, Lebanese, and Israeli society are most exposed.



    The parcels of land preserved by and for native communities known as reservations represent and embody indigenous attempts at maintaining a communal and traditional system of life, governance, and connection to land in the face of United States attempts at assimilation through individuation, proxy governments, and economic and material domination.




  • the gardener's vllage

    Manash firaq Bhattacharjee



    In the beginning was the house. The cradle larger than the universe, the fan a rotating monster, people come and go, calling me a name I don’t yet know is mine, their voices die on walls and my ears, a hand suddenly pulling the woollen flower over my head, teasing me into raptures. This is how elders behave with newborns, make eerie gestures, an ancient mimicry of sounds, every elderly gaze turning child, momentarily forgetting their death, in the smile of the newborn the myth of life is renewed.

    I am claimed by outstretched arms, the first sign

    of love’s dependence on earth, also the last, as hands embracing you will harden their distances later.


    In the beginning was the house. The walls grew

    bigger and the telephone louder, there was more noise than ears could hold, every sound was a shriek in the heart of silence, the fan grew less threatening. Hens in the courtyard, my first playmates, became chicken curry on the plate, an appetising shock that ruptured forever the relation between man and other species. The tongue, I learnt, is a slave of aromas, all organs are defined by pleasures.

    No soul, except a trail of buried questions.





    The gate appeared years later. I learnt of the house with two boundaries, one for entering another for exit, one for inhabitants, another for trespassers, a law divided into two halves, embellished by a garden, a galaxy of flora from the hills, flowers you choose before you learn to choose women, Magnolia and Dahlia, white and dark, moonlight and night, beauty without feet, nymphs on soil, spreading dreams through their smell. It was a village of gardeners, they came with the sun, shovels on shoulders, all smiles and beetle nuts in their mouths, coughing from the smoke of bidis. They were time from a different time, men from another place, another era soon to disappear before I learnt of it.


    I learnt to open the gate as my hands reached the bolt on the door. I broke a few glasses to announce my fists and my freedom. The street was mine, the neighbours mine, the slow traffic of carts and bicycles mine, no one could prevent me from lying on all fours behind cars, gush of petrol flaming my nose, opening my senses to the earth’s buried liquid moving things on its surface.

    I was opening my heart to the world, to other houses, kitchens, learning every kitchen smelt different, every house had different corners, clothes and voices. I grew out of my loneliness of the lone house, ecstatic to find other gates and doors open and close, a labyrinth spreading before greedy eyes.



    Stopped in my tracks by a girl, sharing my thinness and pranks, her swift legs, her voice shrill, and her body perhaps a little different from inside, I could never ask nor tell, as we played together, learning other games later, least knowing the secret of what we were learning, basking in the ignorance of time, the ignorance of our bodies, basking in childhood’s sun, running up and down piles of haystacks, food for two cows, Radha and Krishna, divinities with tails. Their child Gokul, frothing at his mouth, fallen from the sky, even animals performing miracles like us, children they said are gifts from heaven, I asked for a child but nothing fell, till I learnt I too can beget a child if I, Krishna, found my Radha.


    School entered, a heavy wagon full of books and teachers with sticks, more scolding, more noise, more beatings, more mischief, indisciplined armies, we loved war without authority, commanding ourselves, ancient hordes, rebelling in uniform against uniform, dressed to behave, learn discipline, we showed our wrath. Ban uniforms in schools, make children colourful, colour the school, colour the garden, let butterflies sit before blackboards, banish uniformity to hell, throw the sticks away, let the tongue take charge, command love. And then came the other war, outside the premises, police sirens and a word whipping through the building walls, “curfew”, people without uniforms waging war in other names, mother tongues at war, dates at war, history’s forced cousins breaking apart, curfewing the streets, bewildered dogs chasing police vans, barricades and check posts, hearts breathing with fear, a bad day to fall in love with a neighbour, her white socks wet with rain, smell of dreary flowers, smell of incense trickling through the air, a martyr’s curse spreading through the town, history written in the shape of stones, fear of blood in the heart of stones, time for gardens, houses, schools and neighbourhoods to wake up and read newspapers, hear radios, new names from across the seas, BBC and VOA, telling us what AIR doesn’t, who and how many were killed where in the torn land.



    I learnt I am outsider, I am alien on alien soil, what is mine isn’t mine, an object from the sky who fell accidentally, the stars were no longer alien, I was, where will I go, where will we go, from here, from this here that was suddenly nowhere, not ours, not mine, after the rains, even the frogs croaked at night, go away, go away you aliens, you don’t belong here, find your way out, leave before you die, or they kill you, save your lives. Only history’s idiots are decreed to leave suddenly, fools who are fast on their legs, they walk


    too far for their own good, cross borders and bridges, their names luggage without roots, flung into the future, very soon forced to bear the past and the story starts travelling backwards.


    If you love nations, those born of fire and speeches, oaths and hangings, garlanded memorials, great names and birthdates in textbooks, you forget to learn of those who are born on the other side, the other side of nations, of their borders, thrown offstage suddenly without notice, tricked by a script inside heavy doors, marking lines on soil, marking the fate of names and surnames, the sun and the moon no longer belongs to everybody, some have to leave their seasons and birds behind, plough new gardens, enter new doors, reinvent life with labour, only to be declared alien, outsider, crook who stole someone else’s space in the sun, your love for nations take your ears away from other stories, stories no one wants to hear, that alone tell how nations amputate people, land and sky for what the gods at the borders demanded.



    I was born to the tyranny of elders, the laws of threads and mantras, stories of snake and mongoose, till I tore the threads and mantras apart, mocked the durbar of men, separated stories from life, I embraced all things green, the smell of saffron

    on Eid, I gave generous alms to fakirs who stood at the gate singing of gods without a country, no school or street taught me as much as my heart, about all that was going wrong with the world. To be born was to be at the wrong time, at the wrong place, the wrong constellations of stars guiding people from disaster to disaster, holding on to the crumbs of severed addresses. But love took me through them, holding my hand, sprouting in my bewildered body the seeds of a tender rebellion.

  • MAJD ABdel hamid


    Majd Abdel Hamid is a visual artist from Palestine. He was born in Damascus, Syria in 1988, lived in Ramallah, and is currently based between Ramallah and Beirut.


    Abdel Hamid works on negotiating national identity, depression, conflict analysis, trauma and time.



    Cross stitch embroidery, fabric on fabric. 2016


    Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, our screens have been bombarded with images of death and these
    images have become redundant to the eye after five years of repetition. This is an attempt to reclaim the image.
    Each embroidery is a depiction of a picture taken either by news broadcasters, mobile phones, or still shots from videos.

    Man in Dar’a- Syria lying on the ground
    after military opened fire on protestors

    cross stitch embroidery, fabric on fabric
    19 cm / 14 cm

    Unknown man shot
    Aleppo -Syria

    cross stitch embroidery
    8 cm / 14 cm


    99 keys, 12cm length


    The 15th of May each year commemorates the Nakba - the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948. To mark this day, tens of thousands of representations of an old key, the “key of return” are distributed, prints and cutouts, the key also makes grand appearances on TVs, newspapers, billboards and flags. This image of an old key has permeated the visual identity of the Palestinian collective. One of the monuments featured in the 7th Berlin Biennale.

    “Pacifier” is a homemade lollipop, a cloned key made from sugar and it is edible and colourful, negating the medium
    and its functionality, juxtaposing the fragility of the medium with metal, the pacifier breaks.



    crushed cement, sand, glass



    Recognition of the hourglass as a symbol of time has survived its obsolescence as a timekeeper. Unlike most other methods of measuring time, the hourglass concretely represents the present as being between the past and the future, and this has made it an enduring symbol of time itself. The powder in hourglass
    consists of crushed cement bits chipped from the “Wall” in the West Bank mixed with sand grains. Hourglass is handmade and
    produced in collaboration with a glass factory in Hizma*.


    * Hizma is a Palestinian town in the Jerusalem Governorate, located half a kilometer northeast of Jerusalem city.


    embroidery on fabric


    This artwork is a collective collaboration with a group of eight women from Farkha*, it consists of nine embroidered portraits of Mohamed Bouazizi - a Tunisian vendor who set himself on fire in December 2010, an act that became a cataclyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring. Each participant embroidered one portrait, the embroideries in terms of colours and size reference Any Warhol's silkscreen prints of Marilyn Monroe and other pop stars.


    Bouazizi's image quickly became an icon a "Pop" star in the Arab world. His performance of self-immolation in public space is juxtaposed in this work with cross-stitching. Exchanging mass production of the image (silkscreen printing) with embroidery as an autonomous performance in private spacem, an attempt to investigate the creation of the paradoxical "pop" star. The repercussions of the act of self-immolation stigated a new approach to martydom and propelled a discussion on religious, political, and social levels.

    On the opening night of the exhibition featuring this work a group of unannounced men walked into the exhibition space and prayed next to the installation of embroideries. The reason behind using the space for prayer is still unknown, but their performance next to the artwork added another layer to the work.


    *Farkha is a Palestinian village located in the Salfit Governorate in the northern West Bank


    embroidery on fabric


    pill capsules, cardboard, plaster


    “Pain Killers” juxtaposes the sacred image of the Palestinian aspirations (The Dome of the Rock) with painkillers and antidepressants. It serves as a dialogue between the Palestinian rhetoric and reality and between the fantasy and the “high”. The Dome of the Rock has surpassed religious connotations to become the image of the capital all while maintaining its importance as “the landmark” of the Islamic and Arab culture in Palestine.


    This handmade model of The Dome of the Rock has been made by Palestinian Prisoners while serving their sentences in Israeli jails.


    In 2011, after being shown in a group exhibition “Here and
    Now” in Laznia, Poland, on its way back to Ramallah the sculpture was held at Ben Gorion International Airport for secuirty check and released two months afterwards severly ruined.


    pill capsules, cardboard, plaster

  • hello psychaleppo

    Originally from Aleppo, Hello Psychaleppo, aka Samer Saem Eldahr, is the founder of Electro-Tarab and rapidly gaining recognition as Syria’s preeminent electronic artist.


    Hello Psychaleppo creates the new video Shahba (Aleppo) by mixing original video footage from his hometown, sampling the music of Aleppian singer Nehad Najjar, and blending it with his own illustrations to pay homage to the city that formed him.


    Shahba was co-commissioned by Shubbak, the British Council and The Space.


    Hello Psychaleppo is deeply rooted in oriental music tradition. Blending it seamlessly with electronic music, he creates a journey away from boundaries of style, engaging souls into letting go while experiencing a new dimension of sonic blends.

All Posts