Tag: beaf2021

A red front door to reprepresenting a home setting Coming Up

BEAF Introduces: Seeking Refuge

Introducing Seeking Refuge, Caroline & the photographers.

“Forced migration is a pressing issue in the modern world. It is an issue which we usually view from afar”

A red front door to reprepresenting a home setting

This week we chatted to Caroline Beale Johnson about the incredible work her project Seeking Refuge is undertaking and of course, asked her what it means to be human.

Seeking Refuge is a photographic project that will use images and words arising from the lives of refugees and migrants currently seeking asylum and living in Bournemouth. For this project Caroline has selected and is working with photographers to provide an insight into the lives of the displaced migrant community.

“Refugee is just a word we use without thinking about the stories.”

How did the project begin? What was your motivation?

After spending several years in the world of photography and working on many different projects I realised I was most inspired by photography for good.

Forced migration is a pressing issue in the modern world. It is an issue which we usually view from afar. There is still a huge misconception within the mainstream media about forced migration and why refugees and migrants are fleeing to our shores.

Much of these discussions imply that these people are risking their lives and leaving everything they have, just for our benefits system. There is a need to challenge these misconceptions and tell the true stories behind these unimaginable decisions. Refugee is just a word we use without thinking about the stories.

“Without the umbrella of BEAF the project wouldn’t have received funding”

How has BEAF helped the project development?

Picture of Bournemouth Beach with two deckchairsIncredibly! Without the umbrella of BEAF the project wouldn’t have received funding, which allowed us to take the first steps towards the project’s reality. Through the support of BEAF we were able to gain funding for our photographers. Securing our photographers in the early stages has been crucial to the continuing development of the project.

As with most projects, Covid has provided us with delays, meaning the project is not where we had hoped at this moment. However, BEAF is enabling us to have somewhere to show our work even in its smaller capacity.

“We will be able to reveal the lives of refugees and migrants, not from afar, but from the inside.”

How do you picture the project connecting with the community?

There are many charities out there doing amazing work and providing support for refugees and their families. We are currently working with the International Care Network, specifically their Bournemouth branch. ICN work extremely hard to build trust with refugees in the community and they have been an incredible liaison for us.

When restrictions allow, we have plans to hold creative workshops with refugee families and ICN. These workshops will be a vital part of the project and the relationships between our photographers and the refugee families. We hope to be able to work with the children to make pinhole cameras. Through this, we will be able to reveal the lives of refugees and migrants, not from afar, but from the inside.

“They can’t wait to see each other in real life”

How are the relationships between the photographers and the refugee’s developing? 

Before the first lockdown came into place the photographers and the refugees were able to meet in person with the help of ICN. Unfortunately, when lockdown hit they were forced to chat virtually which has obviously made building relationships harder. The lack of body language has been a challenge however, being online has helped with translation.

Given these challenges, they have all made some amazing connections and already cannot wait to see each other in real life. For the refugees and migrants who have left careers and families behind, trusting people can be extremely difficult. Therefore, ensuring we maintain contact beyond the project is so important.

To love and be loved

What does being human mean to you? 

Picture of Caroline Beale Johnson

This is a big question! Finding photography slightly later in life than most, and realising this passion as a career has hugely impacted my happiness. For me, being creative is such an important part of feeling human.

However, after some great discussions with my family we concluded that being human is the ability to love and be loved.


Where you can find the exhibition?

A big thank you to Caroline for chatting with us and introducing Seeking Refuge. You’ll have to wait until BEAF 2021 to visit the exhibition, but in the meantime why not check out the amazing photographers taking part:

One person standing and one person sitting against a brick wall Coming Up

A Taste of BEAF 2021: Pests Production

A Taste of BEAF

BEAF 2021’s Commissioned Artists

Planning for BEAF 2021 is in full swing, and we are more excited for May 29th than June 21st!  So, over the coming weeks we will be giving you an exclusive taste of BEAF 2021, by introducing our 2021 commissioned artists and what exciting things they have planned for this year’s festival. Each week we will feature chats we’ve had with our artists to find out what you can expect between May 29th – June 6th.

FABruary, Outrageous Outfits & Uncle Simon’s ‘friend’ Mark

One person standing and one person sitting against a brick wall
David & Sophia from Pests Production


This week, in honour of LGBTQ+ month we chatted to Sophia from the vibrant world of Pests Production. Run by Sophia Greppi and David Doust Pests Production is not-for-profit producing company grown and based in Dorset. The duo put on drag and theatre shows across the South West, and have worked with local, national, and international artists to bring performances to areas that don’t have much of an established arts scene.

As well as putting on a variety of shows, including an Arts Council funded programme of theatre, they also offer producing services, application guidance, script editing, and general artsy chats for people feeling a bit lost about their next step.

‘It’s basically a party, it’s a celebration, and it’s definitely a gay old time’

What new piece are you creating for BEAF Festival 2021?

We were delighted to be asked to organise BEAF’s closing party! We’ll be joined by two solo performance artist, Grace Thompson and James Watkins, both putting on previously toured shows. They’re weird, they’re funny, and they’re definitely not anything you’ve seen before! And following this, we’re bringing you a fabulous night of drag with our ever brilliant hostess, Cilly Black. Cilly and her cast will be bringing a whole night of live performances, lipsync battles, and outrageous outfits, all under the theme of ‘Coming out of the Closet; Best Outfit Edition’.

People have been stuck in trackies and pjs most of this past year, so we thought it’d be super fun to encourage all of our audience to wear their favourite outfits, whether that’s a floor length gown or your newest football shirt. It’s basically a party, it’s a celebration, and it’s definitely a gay old time.


Lipsyncing drag performer with arms in the air
Lipsyncing performance during BEAF 2019 festival.

We love making people happy’

Tell us all about FABruary

FABrurary was our little project this month to bring some happiness onto people’s socials. Everyday, myself, David, Josh (aka Cilly), or Emily, our social media guru, would nominate a person we thought were fab and write about them! We picked athletes, humanitarians, artists, friends, relatives, all sorts! It’s been amazing to see the response, and how many people have messaged us privately to say they’ve really been cheered up by the posts. Getting that kind of feedback is what we strive for; we love making people happy and sharing positive vibes.

Check out Pests Production socials to see their nominations for FABruary:

Pests Production Facebook

Pests Production Instagram

Pests Production Twitter

‘Openly queer characters on children’s TV shows helps a lot more kids than most people realise’

Who is your biggest motivator or inspiration from the LGBTQ+ community?

I think my biggest inspiration growing up had to be my uncles. I remember being really young when my uncle Simon would come round with his ‘friend’ Mark. Being a very small person at the time, I just thought it was cool that my uncle got to hang out with his best friend all the time! Both my uncles have been incredible rocks in my life, and a shining example of what a successful marriage looks like.

I also have a passionate love for Rebecca Sugar; she’s an out and proud bisexual woman, and her work as a writer and cartoon creator gives younger audiences clear examples of queer relationships and the fluidity of gender. I would have loved to have had something like Steven Universe when I was younger, it helps explain a lot of what I was feeling growing up but didn’t know how to put into words. Having openly queer characters on a children’s TV show helps a lot more kids than most people realise I think; even with the progress today, there’s still a loneliness in figuring out queer sexuality in a hetero-normative world.


Drag Perfomer smiling during a performance
Scarlett Fever performing – follow her on the ‘gram @scarlettfeverdrag

‘We’re curious, we can’t help ourselves, we’re only human.’

What does it mean to you to be human?

A lot of being human to me is all about exploring! Bonding with other people and learning more about them, more about the world, that’s what it means to be human. You get born one day onto this weird little watery rock in space and there’s SO MUCH to discover on it! Since lockdown, I’ve had the chance to try out a lot of stuff, and even the stuff I’ve failed miserably at, I’ve really enjoyed trying.

I think humans are curious little creatures through and through, we love to learn, we love to try new things. I get so excited about any space mission, because isn’t it just brilliant that these little specs in the universe are sending their robots off to other planets to explore even more? We’re curious, we can’t help ourselves, we’re only human.

Share your FAB People!

A big thank you to Sophia for chatting with us and sharing more about Pests Production, her inspirations and what it means to be human! Sign up to the Pests Production newsletter to see all the icons their followers have submitted as their own FAB people. Sophia and David are also still taking submissions for anyone else interested in taking part! Find all details pinned to the top of their fab Facebook page: HERE