Young European Artists Explore Themes of Liberty on an International Cultural Journey

Published: Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 3:55pm

Journey's End Festival 2020
Journey's End Festival 2020

In the current political, pandemic and artistic climates exploring themes of freedom and democracy feels more relevant than ever. Whilst personal mobility is restricted on a local, national and international level, two programmes that explore international art are combining to create a platform for artists, from across Europe, to collaboratively respond to these pertinent themes.

ArtReach, an Arts Council England NPO, producers of Journeys Festival International (JFI) and lead partner on LIBERTY EU, a 3 year large-scale Creative Europe cooperation funded project, have recently commissioned artists under the age of 30 from across Europe to create new collaborative works of art. The work will be launched online as part of Journeys Festival International (28 September – 18 October).

Maddie Smart, Executive Artistic Producer at ArtReach explained, “It has been amazing to bring together these unique international collaborations to explore global cultures and responses to freedom, migration and European identity. We are thrilled to be working with artists from across Europe to share powerful stories and perspectives through new digital artworks that will be presented alongside this year’s festival programme. We’ve teamed up artists to work together from different backgrounds and artistic disciplines from across the continent to showcase new international talent and create some very exciting new work.”

Freedom of Movement? is an interdisciplinary digital performance, curated by Associate Curator Mandla Rae.  Mandla has brought together new artistic collaborations which will be showcased in a digital exhibition. Collaborators include UK based Theatre of Sanctuary, Stand up and Be Counted Theatre Company, who will be working with contemporary performance artist Pankaj Tiwari, originally from India and now based in Holland, exploring different perspectives of feeling trapped either side of the English Channel and questioning who has the freedom to move and why. Tiwari has just completed a walk from the Netherlands to Calais and will be showing a film of that journey. Bahzad Sulaiman, a Kurdish performance artist and sculptor is exploring the body’s mass in isolation through performance and opera with London based researcher and soundscape artist Betül Aksu who is searching for hope as she looks back on her life and her journeys. Manchester based artist, Parham Ghalamdar, has been teamed up with fellow Iranian filmmaker Morteza Khaleghi, who now resides in Rome. Together they’ll investigate the daily life of a long-term refugee camp resident using film, animation and storytelling. Curator Mandla Rae will be exploring their inherited Refugee status and tracing the journeys that their Northern Ndebele tribe have taken since they broke free from Shaka Zulu in a new performance.

London based refugee theatre company Phosphoros Theatre will create Sun up, Rain falls, River rises, a series of audio narratives to listen to at sunrise, after the rain and when you’re walking by water. Written by Mohamed Abdu, Goitom Fesshaye and Syed Haleem Najibi in collaboration with writer Dawn Harrison. They will have support from Suba Das, Artistic Director and CEO of HighTide as a dramaturg.  Whilst, previously mentioned, Parham Ghalamdar is teaming up with the award-winning team at Limina Immersive to recreate an Iranian graffiti site in a virtual reality exhibition, and the internationally renowned Invisible Flock are teaming up with Majid Adin, animator of Elton John’s Rocketman music video, and 3 young European animators to create a new animation piece which will be transformed into a live projection piece in 2021.

This is the first year for Journeys Festival International to be delivered almost entirely digitally and it’s hoped that the new commissions and online reach will help the festival establish new audiences across Europe. The full programme will be announced in August, there will be incredible live music, performances, exhibitions, artist talks and creative arts workshops for people to enjoy. Be sure to save the dates as Journeys Festival International goes digital from 28th September – 18th October. You can follow all of the action at

ArtReach is a cultural development charity and Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, which in addition to consultancy and public art commissioning has a substantial and long track record in delivering successful Festivals and arts events. Its aim is to make great art possible and accessible, connecting art with grass roots and diverse communities to forge creative engagement.

Journeys Festival International #JourneysFestival #LIBERTYEU  | Twitter: @JourneysFest Instagram: @JourneysFest Facebook: @JourneysFest

Proudly produced by ArtReach, Journeys Festival  International is  a multi-art  form  platform  that  celebrates  the  talents  of  exceptional  refugee  and  asylum  seeker artists  and  shares  refugee  stories  through  great  art.  Journeys Festival International is  now  established  in  the  cities  of  Leicester,  Manchester  and  Portsmouth,  UK.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


The Liberty EU project is made possible through funding from Creative Europe and is an exciting new international arts programme which explores and celebrates freedom through creative integration. The focus will be on young artists and young people’s perceptions of the future of Europe and culminate in a season of work from across Europe being showcased in Leicester in 2022.  LIBERTY will run from September 2019 until December 2022 across ten European countries, culminating in a major pan-European Liberty festival running from May to October 2022.

Creative Europe

Creative Europe is the European Union’s programme to support the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors. From 2014-2020, the EU is investing €1.46 billion in the creative industries through one unified programme, Creative Europe. Creative Europe supports European projects with the potential to travel and find audiences beyond their national borders. Launched in 2014, Creative Europe brings together a Culture sub-programme, which provides funding for the cultural and creative sectors to collaborate across borders, and a MEDIA sub- programme, which invests in cinema, television, new media and games. Match funding is required by participating organisations. Creative Europe is open to all EU Member States plus 11 non-EU countries.