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

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 Company of Sanctuary, Stand and Be Counted Theatre Company and Tafadzwa Muchenje, who will be working with contemporary performance artist Pankaj Tiwari. Pankaj, originally from India and now based in Holland, is exploring different perspectives of feeling trapped either side of the English Channel and questioning who has the freedom to move and why Pankaj 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

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