Thirning Villa

Thirning Villa provides self-contained accommodation in the historic two storey restored Victorian style building in Pratten Park, Ashfield.

Ashfield is a rich cultural environment where artists can develop their practice and work with the community to further the artistic strengths of the Inner West of Sydney.

Since 2003, artists from all over Australia and around the world have participated in this unique program. Painters, poets, sculptors, dancers, film makers, puppeteers and songwriters have visited Ashfield and stayed at Thirning Villa.

Artist in Residence

Refugee Art Project

 Refugee Art Project 


Refugee Art Project is a non-profit, community art organisation which has facilitated art workshops for asylum seekers and refugees in the Villawood detention centre and for refugee living in the Western Sydney community since late 2010. The artworks produced within our workshops are curated and shown in public exhibitions, online and in self-published zines, to educate the broader Australian community and challenge the misconceptions that surround the refugee issue. Refugee Art Project aims to facilitate the self expression of asylum seekers and refugees, activating art in the struggle for social justice.   

Participants in the Refugee Art Project have come from such countries as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Kurdish regions of the Middle East, Syria, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other places. Two to three years is the average length of time that our participants have spent in indefinite detention, with some spending up to five or six years. Refugees in the community currently live on short term visas and are particularly marginalised with little access to resources or emotional support, making a centre such as Thirning Villa crucial to their wellbeing — as a place to foster a sense of community, self-expression, and human flourishing.   

Our workshops in Thirning Villa will range across diverse mediums, from drawing, painting and sculpture, to printmaking, filmmaking and VR (virtual reality). The Thirning Villa residency offers us the special opportunity to engage a larger number of asylum seekers and refugees across multiple workshops, catering to their diverse needs and interests. We intend to share the space with other social support organisations, transforming the residency into a vibrant social hub. Thirning Villa is open to the public at specific times and for public events, in which we encourage interaction and dialogue between Sydney's refugee communities and the resident community of Ashfield and the inner west.

Through our public exhibitions, opening events, zine fairs, open days and at specific times of the week, including Thursday and Saturday afternoons, Thirning Villa will be open to all, welcoming local visitors and people from other parts of Sydney, to engage in the respectful appreciation of art, the issue of refugee rights and our mutually imbricated narratives and histories.    

Refugee Art Project Twitter

Refugee Art Project Instagram

Susan Chen Mahjong 

Susan Chen Mahjong

Rituals of Resistance exhibition:
Inner West Artists respond to I Am Not A Virus
9 - 25 March 2023
Thirning Villa, 40 Arthur St, Ashfield NSW

Opening hours:
Thursday: 2pm – 7pm
Friday: 2pm – 7pm
Saturday: 12pm – 7pm (4pm close on Saturday 25 march)

Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Sunday: Closed (except for Tuesday 21 March for artist talk)

Opening: 9 March 2023, 6 - 8 PM
Artist Talk + Discussion: 21 March 2023, Int’l Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 6 -8 PM
Presented by Diversity Arts Australia and Inner West Council, as part of the I Am Not A Virus project. Supported by Australia Council, Create NSW, Creative Victoria, City of Sydney, City of Parramatta and Inner West Council.


40 Arthur Street, Ashfield

Contact and further information

For further information about this residency, contact Olivia Patchett via email (Monday - Thursday).

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Page last updated: 05 Sep 2023