Refugee-inspired painting by Buxton student to be displayed at UN offices

Laura Hyland with her painting The Journey which will hang in the United Nations office in Geneva.
Laura Hyland with her painting The Journey which will hang in the United Nations office in Geneva.

A painting by a Buxton artist is to be put on display in the United Nations’ offices in Geneva.

Laura Hyland, who has just completed her Foundation Degree in Art and Design at Buxton and Leek College, has had her painting, The Journey, purchased by United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Melissa Fleming.

Laura, 58, of Sheldon Road in Fairfield, said: “When I found out she wanted to buy the painting I was jumping off the ground - I still cannot believe it.”

Laura, originally from London, has been living in Buxton for the past seven years and is passionate about helping others. She is involved with the Hummingbird Project which helps refugees, and used to run an art class for asylum seekers.

Her painting is one of a series of four titled ‘Sea Rescues’ which explore the plight of the refugees, specifically the sea crossings and rescues.

She said: “It was an emotional process for me as I really wanted the painting to represent people and I got caught up in their feelings. I put a lot of me into The Journey and wanted to recreate the sensation of drowning with all the swirling colours.”

“For me, art has to be about human stories and injustices in the world that I can help raise awareness of through my art.

“I’m so honoured to have sold my painting to Melissa. She has such hands-on experience and personal involvement with the issues that I am trying to highlight; what better place for it to be viewed.”

Laura first approached Melissa on Facebook and showed her samples of her work, and was shocked when she made contact.

The painting has already been sent off to Geneva, and Laura says she feels more nervous now.

She said: “I’m quite anxious to see if she likes it in real life, and I’d love to get some feedback from her.

“She is the person who deals with refugees and has seen so much sadness over the world. Art is something for the long term, not just the now, and I hope the message continues to resonate with her and other people at the United Nations offices.”

Laura is continuing her studies at Buxton & Leek College, where she will begin her BA (Hons) Top-up Course at the Leek campus in January. She will also be working towards a new project highlighting humanitarian issues.

She added: “This is a huge achievement and I’m so proud to get my work recognised like this.”