Refugee Week in your Cathedrals

16th June 2023

Coming together and re-thinking the meaning of sanctuary and refuge: Refugee Week in our cathedrals.

Chichester Cathedral has launched a summer exhibition inviting people to think anew about sanctuary, diversity and refuge.

Resilience in Clay is a collection of sculptural works from the artist Kate Viner and comprises seven sculptural portraits. Each of the subjects is building a new life in Chichester, some having found refuge from persecution based on conflict and religious, social and or ethnic discrimination.

Alongside the sculptures, visitors will have the opportunity to view the sitters’ own responses to the work, in their first languages, through hand-embroidered pieces.

The exhibition is part of a number of activities across the county to mark Refugee Week 2023 from June 19.

The Cathedral’s Canon Chancellor, the Reverend Dr Daniel Inman, said: 

“The human face in sculpture has always invited contemplation, not just of the individual portrayed, but of humanity itself. 

“Acting as a kind of mirror, they speak to us of the uniqueness of every individual, bearing the image of God. As such, Resilience in Clay challenges the dehumanising and harmful rhetoric that is currently invoked about some of those seeking sanctuary in our nation, inviting us to ponder our shared humanity with those who have taken shelter in our city.”

Since 2019 Kate, an artist who exhibits internationally, has been working with local charity Sanctuary in Chichester to produce creative opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees in the Chichester District.

Coming together and re-thinking the meaning of sanctuary and refuge: Refugee Week in our cathedrals.

She said:

This exhibition enables us to explore the values of cultural diversity and human resilience, within the context of the Cathedral’s rich tradition of using art to inspire higher thoughts.  As a co-founder of Article 12 Arts, and working alongside Sanctuary, I have met new people, built new relationships and been inspired by both community connections and human resilience. 

Resilience in Clay is available until 31st August and will be supported by a programme of events including an Artist’s Tour and a portrait drawing workshop. Activities will also be taking place as part of Refugee Week, from 19th – 25th June 2023. The exhibition forms part of the Festival of Chichester 2023.

For Refugee Week 2023, Canterbury Cathedral has joined with Diocesan Social Justice Network, the Clewer Initiative, and KRAN to engage its surrounding communities via free* talks, workshops, discussions and an exhibition in building a Community of Compassion for those in need of international protection. There is story-sharing and an art exhibition.

Find out more on their website here.

This year’s Refugee Week theme is compassion and Blackburn Cathedral will host a Compassion Conference this Monday 19 June and is inviting people to come and find out how Blackburn with Darwen has welcomed and supported Refugees from across the globe over the last two decades.

On the day there will be talks from keynote speakers as well as an opportunity to hear the stories of compassion from those with lived experience.

Book your free ticket here.

Winchester Cathedral will host a concert to celebrate shared humanity through music and song. Choirs, singers, communities and the audience will come together to raise their voices in unity at 3.30pm on Saturday 24 June. The concert is free and all are welcome and will be followed by Evensong for Sanctuary at 17.30pm

Any choirs who want to join in should get in touch with

Since its inception in 1998, Refugee Week has brought millions of people together through a vibrant programme of arts, cultures, sports, and educational events. These initiatives, alongside media and creative campaigns, aim to connect people from different backgrounds beyond labels, as well as encourage understanding of why people are displaced, and the challenges they face when seeking safety.