Safe Ground - Using drama to educate prisoners and young people at risk in the community


Thoughts about Freedom

Just one week after “Thinking Home”, on Friday 17th July 2015, (see our blog Expressing Home), Safe Ground participated in “Freedom and Expression” at the Free Word Centre in London, organised by the University of Essex Human Rights Centre and Essex Book Festival. The purpose of the event was to bring together diverse organisations working in human rights and the arts, such as Freedom from Torture, PEN International, Safe Ground and other organisations to connect their work with creative arts (literature, theatre etc.) and the interests of the academics and general public.

It was an afternoon that unfolded in three parts:

2-3pm Safe Ground’s Fundraising and Communications Director, Obinna Nwosu made a presentation on the GROUNDation Poetry Project and publication ‘Home’ alongside Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN and Sheila Hayman, Write to Life coordinator Freedom from Torture.

3.15-4.15pm It was the turn of our own Gus, a recently released programme graduate, to make a presentation about creating art under constraint. In our own estimation Gus was the most insightful and humorous speaker of the day, no mean feat when pitched next to Hamid Ismailov, novelist, poet and the BBC World Service’s first writer-in-residence. Segment two was brought to a poignant end by the performance of Souvenirs’ written and performed by survivors of torture Write to Life.

4.30-6pm Featured a panel discussion chaired by writer, Lucy Popescu, in which Safe Ground Executive Director, Charlotte Weinberg, participated on the question: What does it mean to produce and engage with art made under constraint? Perhaps in such surroundings we are all converts but there was enough divergent opinion in the ensuing Q&A session to raise a few eyebrows and the occasional hackle.

Friday was a day that we appreciated the freedom we had to express our thoughts.



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