Art Matters Now – Home Away From Home

I was commissioned by Art Matters Now to create artwork around the theme of migration. I explored the many ways of transport immigrants can take, the landmarks of Sunderland and the hopes and dreams people have. Adding the flower of the area in blooming across hands reaching out for one another.

Reflected on my own history as a child constantly translating, dealing with racism and finding my own way to communicate through art.

You can read the description of the artwork below from https://artmattersnow.org.uk/home-away-from-home/

‘The idea for the ‘Home Away from Home’ publication project emerged from my experiences navigating a new identity as an immigrant in the UK. They were formed against a backdrop of a global pandemic: worsening xenophobia, little real-life contact and the further marginalisation of minoritised people. In these testing and precarious times, I am eager to create a collaborative platform for artists and writers from a minority ethnic or diasporic background—like myself—to connect with each other and communicate through creative expression. I hope that this can be a place where we can define the terms in which we wish to be seen and heard.

I was fortunate to be awarded Sunderland Culture’s 2021 Creative Development Fellowship, which enabled me to commission work from artists and writers as part of this publication. The project has evolved over time and now manifests in two forms: a physical publication and a digital VR exhibition that both presents and extends the ideas through multimedia works.

The first edition of ‘Home Away from Home’ looks into the fluid notion of ‘home’ and narratives surrounding it—from frustrations to contentment, shared vulnerabilities to collective hopes. The publication brings together artworks and texts by five contributors who have made Britain their home. These individuals are Claudia Obag, Dovile Lapinskaite, Marga RH, Sofia Barton and myself.
Readers are invited to reflect on how the ideas raised might relate to their own experiences of belonging and their sense of home. Is ‘home’ defined by a location? Or is it defined by people? Is having a home a right? Or is it a privilege?

— Christie Chan’

Unite – Sofia Barton

Artist for Bay Create

Since August I’ve been lucky enough to work with Whitley Bay Big Local and Barnardos the Base in delivering workshops around the mindfulness of mandalas. After a ‘dragons den’ style interview where the participants interviewed me in June I started work on planning this participatory art project straight away.

Working with age groups from 12-90 years of age, and introducing co-creation amongst them has been a worthwhile experience. To many of the participants this was an opportunity to emerge from isolation, and the negative effects of Covid-19 on their mental health. To be able to speak to them and provide a safe environment to create was key with Whitley Bay Big Local and Barnardo’s The Base.

The variants of experience and personal stories has been profound. They all contributed to the final outcome of artwork, constructed together like their many narratives in the Whitley Bay community. This cross generational team all blossomed week after week, with different ideas and experimentation of techniques.

Dependent on what the group wanted to do we explored themes like : sustainability, recycled materials, natural inks (we looked at blackberry picking and using spices), mandala making, geometric symmetry, using leaves and flowers, stencils, Stamp making, designed post cards, used acrylics and watercolour pens in our sessions. On taking feedback from what the groups wanted I would create worksheets and bring materials in for them to explore the following session. As it was a drop in session too the groups evolved with different dynamics as time went on.

August- December flew by. At the end of the project I had four large canvases 1m by 1m ready to display at Whitley Bay Library. One solely by Marsden Bridge Middle School Art Club. Alongside the group work with Jason Eason and the documentary photos in the middle – it makes a great exhibition. On view now in Whitley Bay Library for a month 🙂

See the Matterport link for a 3D rendition: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=AoP6iKhNciQ

Many thanks to the amazing staff involved who are so supportive :

Jason Eason was the Bay Create artist working alongside me exploring photography and collage. Helen and Sarah, who managed the project & are all around amazing human beings.

Thanks to all the amazing groups involved:

Whitley Bay Big Local

Barnardos The BASE Young People’s Center

Marden Bridge Middle School Art Club

1st Forest Hall Guides

North Tyneside Carers Centre

Unity group at the BASE

Funday Friday group at The BASE

Caitlains programme group at the BASE

4TH Monkseaton Guides

Eothen Residential care home

Eastbourne Residential care home

Whitley Bay Big Local drop-in participants

Mind map
Three mandala canvases. All shapes were made my multiple participants across the project. From left to right: constructed into mandala shape by the Barnardo’s the Base Group, Whitley Bay Big Local Group and Marsden Bridge Middle School Art Club

The project was funded by spiritof2012hq and carries on to another year with new artists in 2022.

Autumn Vibes



I created a couple of different vibes for one of the most popular prints on my Etsy Shop. The very first matchbox design I did for Newcastle upon Tyne. The first special edition was the Pumpkin Spice just for October (Brought back by the power of popular demand) and the second is the Cranberry. Both are heavily influenced by the colour palettes of nature and the seasonal changes.

See more on: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SofiaBartonArt

Fishy on a Dishy

Following the nursery rhyme Dance to your Daddy, sometimes known as “When the Boat Comes In” is a nursery rhyme first published in 1849 in “Songs of the bards of the Tyne” by Joseph Robson. It became popular again in the 1970s when a modern version of the song was used as the theme song for the BBC serial “When The Boat Comes In”, so much that nowadays most people know the modern lyrics of the song.

This is where the inspiration came for this folk song on a fish tin !

Baltic 39

Excited to be a part of the Open Call at Baltic 39 in Newcastle and be exhibiting a painting called Death XIII. This was a continuation of work after my co-investigator role at the Newbridge Project. The canvas is 30cm x 30cm, a background diagonally divided into blood red and black, holds a two toned (divided) circle in the centre. In a halo of gold, a plague doctor stares out to the side of the painting. Two sacred hearts, one a watchful eye symbolises the passivism of the media and public. The second sacred heart symbolises action and survival. The figure in the centre is a personal response to Covid-19, how hopeless it feels, and an echo of the earlier history we were taught about Spanish Flu. There are many parallels of what happened in history that are similar to present day. The title ‘Death XIII’ relates to the tarot card, as Death is one of the major arcana and holds a tremendous amount of symbolism, of great change.

This painting will be for sale, and be going on exhibit November 2020 – January 2020. Catch a sneak peak below !

Co-Investigating for the Newbridge Project

Recently I was commissioned by the Newbridge Project to explore the effects of the pandemic and the lockdown.

It raised questions of economic depravity, depression, mental health, capacity for adaptation, and resistance to hardship. Responses were collected via conversations between friends, family and wider communities. These collated findings in a visual study of multiple conversations spanning 4 languages, 40 participants, survey monkey questionnaires with anonymous responses across Newcastle upon Tyne.


Whilst my first response was from the perspective of a documentary photographer (see past projects) I quickly came to realise the responses I wanted weren’t from simply observation on the streets, it was more emotive and through conversations with people. Varied groups of people created a diverse collective of data that I read through, and created illustrations from. I recorded these all in one moleskin sketchbook.

I wanted to explore the differences in each response, but what I found was they were more similar than anticipated. Family was the most important factor to all of the respondents, and though their lives had been impacted negatively by the corona virus one way or another – the outlook was very resilient.

What was interesting about the study was being able to see what my fellow other 8 investigators were doing. This difference in approach, creating and making has really made this approach unique by the Newbridge Project. More to follow on these soon 🙂

Here is the YouTube video showing the illustrations: https://youtu.be/Oi6P3m2tYMs

Dr.Death. Illustration by Sofia Barton (c)


The Newbridge Project:
Website: https://thenewbridgeproject.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenewbridge…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/N_B_Project