Artists 2017


This year’s artist development programme was supported by an Arts Council grant. We worked with eight Merseyside based artists from refugee backgrounds to produce work for a new exhibition at Tate Liverpool. Exciting stuff! Find out more about the artists and their work below. 


Benyamin Roghanchi
is an experienced classical sculptor from Iran. Benyamin has been sculpting for thirty years, and has created all kinds of pieces for domestic and public display. Benyamin came to the UK four months ago. He works mostly with clay to create his pieces and created two new works for this year’s exhibition.


Rania Alkhllo is a Kurdish Syrian who graduated as an architect in 2014 from Itihad Privet University. Rania has been in England since 2014 and in that year she joined  Festival31 as an artist. Rania’s new work this year reflects the buildings and people of her beloved Aleppo.

Nairouz Habash is a fashion designer and illustrator from Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan who has lived in Liverpool for about four years. She is currently studying in order to go to university in the future. Previous work with Festival31 has focused on the role of women in the struggle for human rights and for freedom. My work this year builds on that and also reflects on the duality of the life of a refugee and of our feelings about those things that remind us of home.

Farhood Jafari Farhood is an Iranian poet, actor and alternative grime artist based in Liverpool.

His works are politically charged, affected by growing up in Iran and being an asylum seeker in UK.

He’s part of Between The Borders magazine and cofounder of Manteq Records representing Tehran’s underground abroad. The MP3 below is a recording of the work Farhood presented in Tate Liverpool as part of FESTIVAL31 2017.

Faris Khalifa Faris is a Liverpool based guitarist who will be creating new collaborative work with Dorcas Seb for performances during the festival. He is also a writer and mental health advocate who represents a number of mental health charities around the UK. His work has appeared on such online publications the front page of Reddit, Upworthy, The Guardian, BBC,The Echo and the Daily Mail. Faris was has been recently featured as a case study in a documentary filmed by VICE UK, which tried to shed light on the stigma around men in mental health.

Dorcas Seb Dorcas Sebuyange is a Congolese Creative Artist based in Liverpool. She specialises in drama, music, poetry and dance.

Starting at the age of 10 as a poet and spoken word artist with Writing On the Wall’s Liverpool Young Writers, Dorcas has produced work as a rapper, singer, actor and more, including supporting the likes of Akala. She has trained with 20 Stories High, Frantic Assembly, PurpleCoat Productions and Collective Encounters, WAC Arts and Catalyst Performing Arts.

Dorcas & Faris worked together for 2017 on new musical collaborations for the festival. One of the songs created, ‘I Wanna Live’ is below – have a listen!

Noel Urbain believes that the arts are an indispensable tool for addressing many of the challenges that our communities face today.

Having experience in Architecture and arts management; Noel brings creative vision and expertise to enhance visual aspects of project identity and development.

My works focus on the use of arts with a demonstrative creativity and emerging technology. For instance arts for well-built environment and arts to creating a dynamic and cohesive community exempt from prejudicial divisions. The above image is just one small part of the alternative, better digital worlds that Noel created for this year’s exhibition.


Faith is a tattoo artist interested in a realist art style and humanism. Faith is currently living in Liverpool, and has spent his entire life drawing. Brilliantly, Faith was given leave to remain as a refugee whilst working with us on this year’s festival. We wish him all the luck in the world with re-establishing his practice here in the UK.

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