Refuge at Arts House

Take refuge at Arts House during an imagined heatwave, and experience first-hand a unique collaboration between artists and emergency services.

Refuge, a five year interdisciplinary project led by Arts House, is designed to explore the role of artists and cultural institutions in times of climate catastrophe.

This year, the event will hold up a creative lens to the increasing possibility of Melbourne experiencing five consecutive days over 40 degrees.

A range of artistic interpretations will take place alongside workshops and emergency preparedness activities run by Red Cross, the Victorian State Emergency Service and other partners.

Asha Bee Abraham, a Refuge artist with a background in sustainability and human ecology, said creative responses to environmental challenges are important.

By 2070, the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology predict that Melbourne’s annual days over 35 degrees will more than double from an average of eight a year, to 17.

‘To me, Refuge is a unique and exciting exploration of the role of artists in responding to climate change related emergencies that are likely to increase if we continue in the direction we’re heading in,’ Asha said.

‘I expect that people coming along will get new perspectives about the risk of climate change related emergencies and will leave feeling clear that we can’t let these become a regular occurrences.

‘I hope that they will also be further intrigued about the value that artists can bring into climate change related planning, communications, and responses.’

At the heart of Refuge is an Emergency Relief Centre, where artists, emergency services and the community will come together to start conversations, dream up ideas and forge possible futures.

The artists will each explore a particular element relevant to the relief centre, such as sleep, light and warmth, food, wellbeing and community. Asha’s work will explore communication.

Contact is the outreach component of our relief centre. It’s based on the Red Cross’ ‘Telecross’ system and will involve intimate conversations with residents in the North Melbourne area who may be vulnerable to heat waves,’ Asha said.

‘Refuge is a unique and exciting exploration of the role of artists in responding to climate change related emergencies.’

‘This will offer participants a few moments of calm human connection amid the flurry of the relief centre.’

To fully experience Refuge’s immersive emergency scenario, sign up for the Refuge 24-Hour Exercise, which runs from midday on Saturday 11 November until midday the following day.

The Refuge 24-Hour Exercise includes a sleepover at Arts House, but this is no slumber party. You’ll need to be ready to help run the relief centre alongside volunteers, artists and others.

It’s an exercise in preparation, mutual aid and creative response.

For more information, visit Arts House.