Southmead Project’s Wall of Silence will return to the Colston Hall to mark the opening of Wall of Silence: The Secret, Hidden World – a free, week-long exhibition featuring a series of challenging and inspirational pieces of artwork created by the survivors of child abuse.

At 12:15pm Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees will make a speech to mark the opening. Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Southmead Project Chief Officer Dr Mike Peirce MBE will also speak at the event that aims to offer hope to other victims and those who are currently being abused; helping them know they have a future, they are being heard and that there is a way out.

The Wall of Silence: The Secret, Hidden World exhibition comes at a time when the understanding of the impact and prevalence of child abuse is becoming more widely recognised in society. The victims and survivors of child abuse are increasingly speaking out in an effort to reclaim their lives and to bring about change.

“The artworks featured within the exhibition have all been created by the survivors of child abuse”, says Dr Mike Peirce MBE. “These adults are expressing themselves and their feelings, using the medium of art to speak the unspeakable.

“It is our sincere hope that this collection of paintings, films, words and sculptures will help visitors understand the awfulness of child abuse, its impact and consequences.”

 The event will open at 10:30am with attendees able to view the Wall of Silence exhibition. At 12:15pm Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol will deliver a keynote address. Speaking before the event he said:

“We all have a role to play in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of children and young people and supporting those who have suffered abuse to enable the long process of recovery.

“The impacts of child abuse can last a lifetime and it’s important that survivors feel able to talk about that abuse and that their voices are heard. This exhibition gives a powerful insight into the experiences of those who have contributed and I hope their courage will help others with their own healing process.”

“The pain, honesty and bravery of the survivors and their experiences is truly breathtaking and I would encourage everyone to take the time to see it” – Sue Mountstevens

At 12:30pm the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens will provide her perspective. “I first visited the Wall of Silence exhibition last year”, she says. “It was a particularly moving occasion and something I will never forget. This poignant exhibition reminds us that we all have a responsibility to give abused children a louder voice and in creating the Wall of Silence, the unheard have been given that voice. The pain, honesty and bravery of the survivors and their experiences is truly breathtaking and I would encourage everyone to take the time to see it.”

Joined by a survivor, Dr Elly Hanson will explore what acknowledgement of abuse looks like. The event will conclude with a Q&A session where attendees can ask questions of the speakers.

The new exhibition follows the incredible success of the original Wall of Silence, which has been shown to great acclaim across the UK. After appearing at the Colston Hall the exhibition will be shown at City Hall.

The Wall of Silence: Secret, Hidden World is the work of the Southmead Project, an independent charity that provides free therapeutic support and practical advice for adults who have been victims of child abuse. 

 Asked what he hopes the event will achieve, Dr Mike Peirce MBE is clear:

“We hope more people consider supporting those who have suffered child abuse in whatever way they can and that they help in preventing abuse of the next generation of our children. 

“Southmead Project believes all this is possible and that the two key dimensions of child abuse – prevention and healing – have so much more value when being tackled simultaneously.”

The Wall of Silence: The Secret Hidden World exhibition will be on display from Monday 9 January until 4pm, Saturday 14 January 2017. The exhibition is open to the public and is free to view. 

The launch schedule for the Wall of Silence: Secret, Hidden World is available to view at: southmeadproject.org.uk