Together We Rise – mural painting with Sadia Sikandar

As part of Refugee Festival Scotland, visual artist Sadia Sikandar was commissioned to create a bold, collaborative mural showcasing the power and strength of refugee voices.

Her piece, Together We Rise, incorporates ideas from members of Grampian Regional Equality Council’s language café in Aberdeen and was painted with the help of New Scots in Glasgow. Digital Content Volunteer, Elina, went to a workshop lead by Sadia to see the mural take shape.

Under Sadia’s leadership, I observed the mural rise into a masterpiece. Each painter was trying to communicate their own message and discovering their own artistic talent, but everyone was united by one goal – justice for all.

Sadia draws on her own experiences of the asylum system to support others who are going through similar challenges, with the help of art therapy.

She explained: “My art and photography strive to capture and amplify these voices, aiming to inspire change and foster a deeper connection among people.

“The more people understand the complexities and injustices of the asylum process, the more pressure there will be on policymakers to enact meaningful change.”

The young artists expressed their feelings by painting the mural using the colours of Refugee Festival Scotland 2024. Flowers, representing the home countries they had left were also added to the piece. The group agreed that these blossoms make a perfect addition.   

Together We Rise highlights the complexity of the lives of asylum seekers and their eagerness to rebuild their lives, rising above challenges together. I hope it will have a meaningful effect on audiences and that they will see the festival theme, rise, shine through.

Thanks to Govanhill Baths for providing a space for us to run the workshop.

The finished mural will be unveiled at a special North East Refugee Festival Scotland Closing Event in Banchory on Sunday, 23 June.