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Bristol artist Niki Groom draws 'joyful' refugee dance event

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Refugee artwork by Niki GroomImage source, Niki Groom
Image caption,
Niki Groom created her artwork while the event was happening

A unique event involving refugee women from around the world has been captured by an artist drawing live.

Niki Groom was invited to draw the annual Refugee Women of Bristol dance, which photographers cannot cover to protect the identities of attendees.

Women from all over the world meet up in the city to dance to the music of different countries they represent.

Ms Groom said it was a "joyful" event which allows the women to have fun in a safe place.

She creates line drawings during the dancing and then finishes them back at her Bristol studio.

Image source, Niki Groom
Image caption,
The artwork is donated to Refugee Women of Bristol for their use

"I feel that the work I do offers an opportunity to tell stories of specific people without showing photographs of them, because there is so much of a tendency to generalise," said the artist, who has also created artwork at refugee camps in Calais and drew the London vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard.

"I think me being a witness at so many events means I can report back on the reality rather than just the headlines."

Event organisers said: "Somehow she [Ms Groom] managed to capture not only the beauty of our members and of the day, but also the emotions felt by our communities as they come together.

"We were especially honoured that our new members of the Ukrainian community shared a traditional dance with us."

Image source, Niki Groom
Image caption,
Women from different countries dance together at the event

Ms Groom said the dance event was "the most joyful event" of her year.

"There are people from different refugee communities from countries across the world," she said.

"What happens is they will play half an hour of music, say, selected by the Somali community, and this year there were people from Ukraine and China as well.

"So everyone dances to everyone's music. It's an opportunity to sort of let go and have fun and feel free."

Image source, Niki Groom
Image caption,
The artist covers the event as photography is not allowed to help preserve the identities of the women

Ms Groom said that because the event was organised by Refugee Women of Bristol, and is not open to the public, it wasn't a "spectacle" but a genuine mixing of communities..

"What is best for these women is to be in a safe environment where their identity is protected and they can have this great experience," she said.

She has set up a crowdfunder to cover her costs for the artwork, so the event organisers do not have to pay.

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