Drawing refuge

I’ve done two drawings recently based on a very similar concept.

The community around my work (a theological and residential college) includes a large number of refugees and asylum seekers, so the state of political discussion around how we treat those seeking asylum is something we have focused on a lot lately.

One of the students, a refugee himself, wants to encourage discussion and action in the community to become more centred around compassion. To influence this he is walking, with a scaled replica of the boat his father built to flee Vietnam, to Canberra, to present it as a gift of love and compassion.

To help people get engaged with this project, we came up with a name and a concept for a logo.

The Gift of Refuge

I had been playing around with the idea of a tree in a boat since my illustration course at the start of the year. I did this in Illustrator, which I haven’t used much.
I really like the symbolism of a tree, which is potential life, looking for a place to plant its roots and grow. There is theological significance in that too apparently, which is appropriate.

So this logo is my gift to him for this project – to find out more you can visit www.thegiftofrefuge.org.au


It is also time to put together the College Christmas card. My boss asked me to put together something that ‘reflected on the fact that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees and referenced the plight of those needing to find refuge now’. Easy.

So that sent me off to do research for inspiration and relevant symbolism (meaning to everyone’s enjoyment the resident atheist had to go and find a Bible).
Luckily some of the theological faculty took pity on me and pretty soon we came up with this idea, which again, funnily enough, I did in illustrator.


I used old paintings of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt as inspiration for the style, but tried to keep the iconography pretty subtle.
I also learned that, in terms of iconography, Joseph looks out to make sure they are safe, Mary looks at Jesus and Jesus looks at us, because he is a baby and babies are adorable – though I may have misunderstood that bit…

I have to say I’m proud of us for using our Christmas card as a platform for saying something important.

And it is nice to have a proper excuse to draw while I’m at work.