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What Is Home? – Art Project

After five Syrian refugees shared their poignant stories of fleeing their homes, imaginations are ablaze among students participating in What Is Home? a collaborative art project between Island Bay School and Make Foundation.

Children taking part have been introduced to Syria’s history, geography, food and culture, written variations on the shared stories and explored character and narrative journeys with the help of live music.

Attention has now moved to painting story illustrations after Seaton-based artist Nicola Dench led a master-class.

The project’s goal is to produce illustrated storybooks to raise funds for our music project for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

You can donate to this project here.


Five weeks in and 119 paintings later!

What Is Home? art project students at Island Bay School, Wellington have let loose their creativity, empathy and enthusiasm. The result is a vibrant collection of artwork and narratives based on stories shared by Syrian refugees who recently celebrated their first year in New Zealand as ‘Kiwis’.

Make Foundation volunteers, including artist Nicola Dench (The Clay Penguin studio) and musician Ruth Prentice (Balkanistas), helped facilitate a series of workshops. Other volunteers, including photographer Nathalie Robert-Peillard and film-maker/photographer Sebastian Brown helped record the process.

Teachers as well as students have engaged and brought a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm to the project. Teacher Lizzie Waipara said her class has been excited since the onset.

From a teaching point of view it’s been a reaffirmation about the power of art.

That is something The Learning Connexion School of Creativity and Art understands well, where creative exploration is encouraged within a social learning context.

We are very grateful for The Learning Connexion’s support with this project. The school donated art supplies so the children could have their own creative exploration.

Come and see what the year 3-4 students produced after hearing moving and inspirational tales of life in pre-war Syria and challenging journeys to a new life in New Zealand.


WHAT IS HOME? FUNDRAISING ART EXHIBITION – Syrian refugee stories illustrated and re-told by Island Bay School students

You are invited to celebrate the completion of Make Foundation’s What Is Home? art project with Island Bay School.

When: Thursday 7th April at 6.30pm – 7.30pm
Where: Island Bay School hall, 6 Thames Street, Wellington
What’s happening: An exhibition of paintings and stories inspired by personal refugee experiences, original songs from young musicians who took part in an earlier music project on a similar theme.
Who’ll be there: Young artists/storywriters from year 3-4 and the teachers who worked with them, Syrian refugees/new Kiwis who shared their stories and inspired the artwork, young Wellington musicians who have written songs on the plight of Syrian refugee children, school staff, Make Foundation volunteers and founders Michelle Carlile-Alkhouri and Michel Alkhouri.

Following the exhibition, book designer Anna Brown and senior lecturer at Massey University’s School of Design will make books from the paintings and stories. Wakefields Digital has generously offered to scan these ahead of print. Proceeds from the books will help fund a music project in Lebanon for Syrian refugee children.

Make FoundationWhat Is Home? – Art Project

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