Hestia's annual 'Art is Freedom' exhibition of art and photography will be on display across five central London locations, ahead of Anti-Slavery Day (18 October). The exhibition, created and co-curated by survivors of modern slavery, will run from Saturday 14 October until Friday 20 October 2023.

Art is Freedom art workshop hosted by Ashurst, run by Create

The ‘Art is Freedom’ exhibition, now celebrating its sixth year, has been created and curated by survivors of modern slavery who have been supported by Hestia.

Francesca Gray-Walkinshaw (left) and Vanessa Woodard (right) from Sky Arts

This year, three of our artists co-curated the exhibition alongside Vanessa Woodard and Francesca Gray-Walkinshaw from Sky Arts. 

Vanessa Woodard, Head of Partnerships from Sky Arts, said: “Being part of the Art is Freedom curation process has been a fantastic experience. I’ve been getting to meet the survivors, hear their stories and it’s been amazing to get together to see all of their amazing art works, the photography, the art – they were really bold, really dynamic and really moving. Sky Arts is really happy to support ‘Art is Freedom’ because we really believe in the power of art for people to express themselves whether that’s a journey they’ve been on, emotions they want to communicate – art is really powerful."

The exhibition is free to attend and will be on display from Saturday 14 – Wednesday 20 October at the following locations:

  • Trafalgar Square
  • Waterloo train station
  • South Kensington underground station (Thurloe Street)
  • London Bridge train station
  • Paddington train station

Hestia is the leading provider of modern slavery support in London and the Southeast, supporting over 2,400 survivors in 2022 in their recovery from the trauma of exploitation. The charity has been supporting survivors for over a decade – both in safe houses and in the community.

One of our artists, curators and modern slavery survivors on our curation day

Survivors come together every summer to join a programme of art and photography workshops. This year, our art workshops were generously funded and hosted by Ashurst, one of our corporate partners. Ashurst colleagues also volunteered their time to provide support and encouragement to survivors. The Ashurst workshops were run in partnership with Create, a charity focused on ensuring vulnerable people have access to education, social and life-enriching benefits of creative arts. Our photography workshops were run by Mark Dearlove, an experienced, professional photographer who has led all photography workshops for Art is Freedom in previous years. Survivors then submitted their best pieces for the exhibition.

One of the survivors featured in the exhibition said: “Art is Freedom workshop gave us the opportunity to show our talents here. I arrived at the last workshop with a blank page and I didn’t know what feelings to put on it. All the colours represent different emotions: sadness, happiness they are captured in my art piece."

Modern slavery is a serious crime affecting more than 130,000 people across the UK* – but it is a crime that is often hidden. Hestia’s exhibition aims to change perceptions of modern slavery, to enable the British public to recognise that it happens in London and the UK and that anyone can become a victim.

One of our artists, a modern slavery survivor, during a photography workshop in London

Plan your visit to see ‘Art is Freedom’ exhibition in London, this autumn.

You can also find out more about the artists and how to spot the signs of modern slavery on our Art is Freedom page.

More info

* Statistic from Antislavery.org: https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/slavery-uk/