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Newly-arrived migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking teenage girls collaborate with older women

Newly-arrived migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking teenage girls collaborate with older women in new project at Dulwich Picture Gallery

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This March Dulwich Picture Gallery is piloting a new intergenerational project working with migrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking teenage girls from the Baytree Centre in Brixton and socially isolated, older women in the Southwark area.

The group will work together over a series of six weeks, creating their own responses to the issue of female representation in the Gallery’s Permanent Collection.  

'Reframing the Muse' offers a unique opportunity for older women within the local community and young women new to the UK to socialise and learn new creative skills together whilst helping the younger girls develop their English in a friendly and engaging environment.

In a series of photography workshops, the group will spend time at the Gallery as well as taking a trip to the Brixton-based photography studio, Photofusion, to learn editing skills. They will work with staff from the Gallery’s Learning team and professional photographer, Heather McDonough to explore how women have historically been portrayed within the Gallery’s 16th and 17th century works and discuss how these paintings contribute and compare to our contemporary attitudes and perceptions of women.  

Drawing parallels with their own lives and experiences, and taking inspiration from the women represented in the Gallery’s collection, they will take their own portraits and photographs which will be displayed alongside the paintings that inspired them in a celebration event on 27 March. The photographs will be on public display in the Gallery’s Linbury room in April.

Jennifer Scott, Sackler Director at Dulwich Picture Gallery, said:

“'Reframing the Muse' is a real chance for younger and older women to feel empowered, and create artwork that has lasting personal resonance. We are proud to present a project that looks closely at the representation of women at the gallery, a subject that I feel can often be overlooked in the history of Western art".

Caley Holmboe, Into School Coordinator at the Baytree Centre, said:

 “I am very excited that the Into School girls get the chance to socialize and create portraits with women who are being isolated by society because of their age group. I believe the benefits of this interaction and providing the girls with a new set of skills (photography, editing), all while exploring the theme of representation of women in a safe space at Dulwich Picture Gallery will be an empowering experience for the participants. I think it is so important to give a voice and face to these two distinct groups of people”.

This project has been funded by the Women of the Year Foundation.

Notes to editors

Into School:

Into School at the Baytree Centre, Brixton, is a programme that facilitates the transition of young newly-arrived immigrant and refugee girls into the UK education system. These girls often struggle to find places at oversubscribed schools and can often wait months before a place becomes available. This process is particularly hard on those without English language skills, and can lead to feelings of isolation and depression amongst the girls.

On the Into School programme, girls participate in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes Monday to Thursday, and attend Maths, Drama and Art classes. The girls can make friends with other girls in similar situations, cooking and having lunch together daily. Girls are also matched with a mentor who helps them apply to schools and colleges and follows up the applications with individual schools or the council. Mentors also provide holistic support, getting to know the girl as an individual and working on building her confidence and character development. The girls take part in diverse activities and workshops to learn more about life in the UK, including day trips to cultural sites across London and important local landmarks. They can also take part in after school clubs and sessions with Baytree’s other beneficiaries allowing them to socialize with their peer group in the local community.

Women of the Year Foundation

The Women of the Year Foundation was established in 2001 with the aim of helping women to fulfil their potential and become, in their own way, future ‘Women of the Year’. Since 2001, the Foundation has supported several disadvantaged women in the UK and abroad through grants, funding and women’s projects worldwide.

Photo and interview opportunity

To arrange access for photography / filming, please email