Members of the local refugee and asylum seeker community were key guests alongside Festival partners, stakeholders and dignitaries as ArtReach launched the third annual Journeys Festival International Portsmouth at Aspex Gallery on Friday night.

As we celebrated the launch of the Festival, which runs from 19-28 October, guests were able to view elements of the large-scale digital art exhibition, Look Up: Searching for Home. Artist Svetlana Ochkovskaya was on hand throughout the evening to discuss her work and to highlight where this mesmerising digital art will appear on big screens around the city throughout the Festival.

Opening words were delivered by David Hill, Founding Director and Chair of ArtReach, followed by an important message from Councillor Steve Pitt, Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council, who reinforced the importance of the Festival for this city and stated Council intentions to work with ArtReach and the Festival team together in the future. There was also a moving reading by Shamila Dhana, from British Red Cross, of what it means being an asylum seeker in Portsmouth – words written by representatives from the community.

Forest Forge Theatre Company joined in the launch as they offered a ten minute taster of their performance ‘Hidden’, a play about two young people who find a refugee in the sea near Hayling Island. ‘Hidden’ was subsequently performed in full to local audiences at Portsmouth Guildhall the following day.

The launch event was hosted at Aspex, the contemporary art gallery on Gun Wharf Quays, and a key Journeys Festival International partner. To see the full programme head to Journeys Festival International Portsmouth