By Katy Hounsell-Robert
When I heard that there would be an exhibition in Chichester Cathedral (until Aug. 31) featuring seven portrait sculptures of asylum-seekers, now based in Chichester, who had shown outstanding resilience and strength of character in coping with their predicament, I expected to be presented with grim details of horrors suffered and the trauma of fleeing them.
In fact, the exhibition “Resilience in Clay” is, as one subject says, “about the ability to bounce back after a set-back, to form new goals after serious problems, to get things in perspective after grief and tragedy”. It focuses on living in the present and in hope.
The cathedral is well known for its multi-cultural community spirit. With the Chichester branch of Sanctuary, a national network seeking to welcome asylum-seekers, it linked up with the sculptor Kate Viner to give a voice to the “new residents” and select seven asylum-seekers, young and elderly, from a range of war-torn countries.
Viner chose the ratio of five women to two men, as women, their husbands often killed in conflict, are abandoned to cope ill equipped with a large young family; but men and especially boys need help too. She also chose the number seven as “it is a spiritual number.”
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