Pupils from Bootham School join forces with refugees on Giant Dolls’ House installation

Giant Dolls’ House installation to open at V&A Museum of Childhood on 14 June

Schoolchildren from Bootham School have contributed to the Giant Dolls’ House installation, a collaborative arts project that opens in London this week as part of Refugee Week (17-23 June) and the London Festival of Architecture. The installation will be on display at the V&A Museum of Childhood from 14-23 June 2019 and entry is free.

This installation is the result of workshops led by architect Catja de Haas, and facilitated by Oxfam, in schools in the UK and a refugee camp in Jordan. The giant dolls’ house has more than 100 rooms covering a wall of the museum. Each pupil was asked to make a room in the dolls’ house to be displayed alongside those designed by Syrian refugees, charity shop volunteers and members of the public.

The childrens’ creations include a ‘Room 4 All’ by Maya aged 13 which uses human rights as a design basis with safety, warmth, privacy, a friendly community, fresh air, food and water and of course great wi-fi!

The rooms created by refugees include a garden left behind in Syria, the memory of a traumatic experience, and the dream home or business of the future. Visitors to the V&A Museum of Childhood will be able to attend a drop-in workshop where they can make their own room to add to the dolls’ house.

The installation is in support of Oxfam’s Stand As One campaign which aims to make sure our government provides the help that refugees urgently need to keep their families together, to escape poverty and to rebuild their lives in safety.

Chris Jeffery, Headteacher at Bootham School, said: “This is a really important project for our young people to engage with, and working in on it has given them a real insight into the experience of refugee children in particular . As a Quaker school, issues of social justice are high up on our agenda at Bootham, and I am glad that our young people have been able to bring something to this impressive installation. I am looking forward to seeing to for myself when I am in London soon.”

Catja de Haas, creator of the Giant Dolls’ House installation, said: “The children who participated were very inventive and fully engrossed in the project. One of the girls in the refugee camp came back the next day with an even bigger box to fill and one boy managed to make a battery-driven fan for in his room. The installation shows that in order to be part of a community one needs to have a home in it.”

Ruth Tanner, head of humanitarian campaigns at Oxfam, said: “Children instinctively understand the importance of family and of finding a place where they belong. Their contributions to this installation are brilliant. I hope that many of them will enjoy exploring the places, hopes and memories brought to life in these rooms.”