Photographer Nigel Pugh engages in a project with the Welsh Refugee Council to offer insight into the lives of volunteers across Wales and their everyday demonstrations of compassion and humanity.
Nigel Pugh is a Cardiff-based photographer interested in exploring social and environmental themes through his work. The old adage of ‘art for art’s sake’ is of little interest to this photographer. For Pugh, art can be a vehicle for social commentary and positive change, which is the message at the core of his recent project ‘Creating Sanctuary’.
With the assistance of the Welsh Refugee Council, Pugh identified six individuals living across Wales, all of whom volunteer to support refugees. Their experiences and backgrounds varied, from Catrin who volunteers with the Birth Partner Project to Sean who has been lobbying Westminster and the Welsh Assembly over the fate of refugees. However the compassion and humanity demonstrated by the volunteers, to support refugees in whatever way they can, binds the project together.
In this sense, ‘Creating Sanctuary’ is a self-styled form of communication. It creates a narrative shared by communities across Wales, allowing insight into a more substantial story- the plight of refugees seeking sanctuary in Wales and indeed, across Europe.
The project sought to identify fundamental human commonalities based around themes of home, work and community- what they mean to us as people and the impact they have on our lives. Refugees, whoever they are and wherever they have come from have had these aspects of human life partly or fully removed. ‘Creating Sanctuary’ is the story of those volunteers or ‘sanctuary makers’ who are assisting to reinstate these human requirements of home, work and community into the lives of refugees.
‘Creating Sanctuary’ is the story of those who are assisting to reinstate ideas of home, work and community into the lives of refugees’
Whilst Pugh noted that the response to the project has been positive, for him the real test will be if the exhibition goes closer to its featured communities and if we’ll see greater engagement with refugees.
‘I think I would say to people to sit and talk with a refugee and then decide how they feel’ Jane, Wrexham- United to Assist Refugees UK
Creating Sanctuary is a free exhibition at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay. It is open to the public until Sunday 2nd July. For further details see here.