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Tea with a Refugee: acclaimed artist visits York as part of Festival of Ideas

Posted on 13 June 2017

Artist and activist Alketa Xhafa Mripa will bring her mobile sitting-room installation to York this weekend, inviting people to join her for ‘tea with a refugee’.


Alketa Xhafa Mripa with her Refugees Welcome installation

Offering free cups of tea, she will welcome anyone for a chat about her positive experiences of being welcomed to the UK as a young refugee from Kosovo in the 1990’s.

Refugees Welcome will take place on Saturday 17 June between 11.00am – 4pm, outside York Minster, as part of the York Festival of Ideas.

Driving a van containing a purpose-built domestic sitting-room interior, Alketa visits various locations across the UK with the aim of opening conversations and collecting stories.

Alketa hopes the installation will explore what we can do to help those seeking refuge, especially against the backdrop of a post-referendum Britain.

Safe space

She said: "Art may not be a solution for the millions of people in the world who have lost their homes, but I believe that art can make the issue of refugees visible, in a way that is understood by all, regardless of faith, nationality or language. Where language fails, art can break through. 

Refugees Welcome will be a window into the welcoming Britain I remember – a safe space where people from all backgrounds can come in, have a sit down and share a story. I hope you can join me.”

Alketa arrived in the UK in 1997 to study Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, before going on to study History of Art at the Tate Modern, London. She became a refugee when the 1998-1999 Kosovo war broke out.

European exhibitions

Since then, she has displayed her work in exhibitions across Europe, including in her native Kosovo with her installation ‘Thinking of You’. This involved thousands of painted donated dresses displayed in a Kosovan football stadium – a powerful tribute to survivors of sexual violence aimed at piercing the silence surrounding wartime rape.

The event is supported by Counterpoints Arts and the University of York Migration Network. It is free to attend and no booking is required.

Further information:

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