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Leicester launches its Journeys International Festival

Multi-city festival that celebrates the artistic talents of global refugees and asylum seekers

is to launch its programme of work online this year.

For the first time in its history, Journeys Festival International (which normally takes place

in the cities of Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth), will be delivering its 2020

programme digitally, in order to react and adapt to the limitations placed on live

performances due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

From 28th September - 18th October, the festival will explore different elements of the refugee experience, and living up to the festival name, will share artwork and events created by international artists who have sought sanctuary in Europe with a national and global audience.

Spanning across exhibitions, artist led creative workshops, a lively music program, film,

performances and curated installations, alongside esteemed international artists and figures, the Festival will also be platforming young artists closer to home.

As Far as Isolation Goes (Online) by tania El Khoury

Executive Artistic Producer Maddie Smart, said: “Creating a digital edition of the

Journeys Festival is an opportunity for us to bring incredible international arts to people across Europe. We have been amazed at the ingenuity and adaptability of the global artists we’re working with to create powerful, beautiful and challenging work online. We’re excited to be able to share a wealth of performances, exhibitions, workshops, talks and digital art with a brand new audience. Now, more than ever, it is important to celebrate the talents and the views and opinions of displaced people from across the word. We need to remember that the artists taking part in Journeys Festival really are the humans behind the headlines."

One of the global musician’s at this year’s festival is award-winning rapper and activist, Hip-Hop musician, Mohammed Yahya. On why this festival is so important, Mohammed said: “Being a person who was once a refugee I wholeheartedly support platforms that celebrate the contributions of refugees whether it is done through art, education or other outlets, I would like to get involved to share my art, my educational workshops and contribute towards the growth of this Festival, as well as take time to also develop my skills and learn from others who will also be sharing and educating.”

Mohammed Yahya pictured above

Festival highlights include:

Audiences can expect musical influences from Eastern Europe Folk with Muha Band, DJ’s, an enthralling vocalist from Italy, Vivi, and a Manchester based youth choir, Young Amani. As well as a whole schedule of live bands and DJs, fans can spend more time with the Mozambican rapper, Mohammed Yahya, as part of a special workshop examining political issues in a Hip-Hop for Human Rights workshop. Yayha will deliver a workshop exploring how Hip-Hop has impacted different communities, justice and the way we think about our collective being.

For festival-goers wanting a moment to reflect, the visual beauty of Mohammad Barrangi’s work, Wonderland, will transport them into another world of personal exploration. Using Persian calligraphy and illustrations with modern printmaking techniques to share his own story of life as an Iranian refugee seeking asylum in the UK. From once representing Iran internationally as an athlete, the artist lives and works in the UK and recently, two of Barrangi’s works have been acquired by the British Museum for their permanent collection.

Wonderland by Mohammad Barrangi

Journeys Festival works in collaboration with other artistic organisations, and this year’s festival is in partnership with UK based Theatre Company of Sanctuary, Stand and Be Counted Theatre Company and Tafadzwa Muchenje, who will be working with contemporary performance artist Pankaj Tiwari. Pankaj, originally from India and now based in Holland, is exploring different

perspectives of feeling trapped either side of the English Channel and questioning who has the freedom to move and why Pankaj has just completed a walk from the Netherlands to Calais and will be showing a film of that journey.

Manchester-based artist, Parham Ghalamdar, has teamed up with fellow Iranian filmmaker

Morteza Khaleghi. Together they’ll investigate the daily life of a long-term refugee camp resident using film, animation and storytelling. Ghalamdar himself is also working with the award-winning team at Limina Immersive to recreate an Iranian graffiti site in a virtual reality exhibition.

Journeys Festival has embraced the digital age in many ways and this year’s programme includes a sci-fi adventure where audiences can travel to space in a 3D experience by two Manchester- based artists, Bedos Mavambu and Pablo Melchor of Another Story Collective. In Down Side Up, spoken word poetry, soundscapes and 3D illustrations will allow attendees to travel with young Bedos Mavambu from the Republic Democratic of Congo to the planet, Mancunia, before landing back on earth to share their tales of travelling with artists around their country, world and even further beyond.

DOWN UP SIDE by Another Story Collective

As part of its LIBERTY EU partnership ArtReach (producers of Journeys Festival International) has commissioned work specifically to respond to the theme of Freedom of Movement?, which feels especially pertinent as many beyond the refugee and asylum seeking community realise what it means to have limitations and restrictions dictate their daily life through Covid-19. Curator Mandla Rae has carefully selected artists from across Europe and paired them to facilitate fruitful connections and creations with each other in a brand-new digital performance piece.

To find out more about the festival and the full programme visit


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