Arts House Refuge Labs 2020

This is not a drill. Join us as we participate in Refuge, a series of compelling events where art meets emergency, preparing the community for climate crisis. 17-18 March, 21 March, 28 May, 4 June, and 30 July 2020.


Refuge drops us in the hot zone of different climate-related disasters. Flood, heat, pandemic and displacement: this five-year project offers us new ways to rally as a community and prepare for climatic events.

Refuge brings together people who might not normally collaborate in a crisis, including local residents, artists, scientists, Elders and experts from the world of emergency services. Their task is to identify what matters when the unthinkable becomes real: what being prepared means in the face of disaster, how the survival of the individual is inextricably bound up with the survival of community, and what role we can each play if the worst comes to pass.

Refuge promotes new ways to ground equity, access, dignity and hope in our response to catastrophe through a creative approach.

In 2016, we imagined a local flood and transformed the North Melbourne Town Hall into a relief centre for 24 hours.

In 2017, we envisaged the increasing possibility of five consecutive days over 40°C.

In 2018, we examined a pandemic event and what happens when the risk of contagion means you would never bring people together.

In 2019, we examined displacement prompted by climate crisis.

The final Refuge will explore the confluence of multiple climate crises and asks: how can we share resources equally in times of hardship when the worst comes to pass? Taking the lead from artist Latai Taumoepeau, the fifth Refuge explores displacement as a humanitarian crisis and directs our focus towards culture, spirituality, relationships and ritual.

Refuge Talk Series presented in Arts House Virtual Season 2020

As part of Arts House’s Virtual Season, we are presenting the Refuge Talks Series, live every Thursday 21 May – 4 June, midday AEST from our website. From practical survival skills to tips from pandemic and medical experts, this three part series takes you beyond the headlines and into the worlds (and living rooms) of those who know what counts most in a time of crisis. For more information click here.

For all Refuge enquiries or to find out how to get involved, email or call (03) 9322 3720.

2019 Refuge Artists
Keg de Souza & Claire G. Coleman
Jen Rae & Giant Grass
Seini Taumoepeau & guests
Kate Sulan & Red Cross
Moorina Bonini & Edwina Green
Lorna Hannan
Theo McMahon
Cassie Lynch
Monica Karo
Timmah Ball
Rosie Kalina

Download the Refuge 2019: Displacement guide

2018 Refuge Artists
Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey
Lee Shang Lun
Jen Rae
Kate Sulan
Ellen van Neerven
Latai Taumoepeau
Lorna Hannan
Michele Lee

2017 Refuge Artists
Asha Bee Abraham
Lorna Hannan
Emily Johnson & Vicki Couzens
Dave Jones
Jen Rae
Latai Taumoepeau

View the Refuge: Heatwave publication
Warning this is (not) a Drill Refuge Catalogue

2016 Refuge Artists
Jen Rae & Dawn Weleski
Latai Taumoepeau
Hannah Donnelley
Kate Sulan
Lee Shang Lun
Lorna Hannan

Project Partners
Refuge is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts and funding and advisory body, Emergency Management Victoria, State Emergency Services, Resilient Melbourne, University of Melbourne, Red Cross Australia, St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre, Creative Recovery Network, The Peter Doherty Centre and The City of Melbourne through Arts House. In 2017 and 2018 Refuge was supported with funding provided by the Australian Government in partnership with the States and Territories under the National Partnership Agreement for National Disaster Resilience and the Victorian Government through the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme (NDRGS). In 2017 Refuge was supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

Image by – Bryony Jackson