Ipswich "Malka" Launch raises £1000 for Suffolk Refugee Support

May 02, 2017  •  1 Comment

The official Ipswich launch of a short film, Malka, by Stefan Freedman and Lois Cordelia has raised more than £1000 for Suffolk Refugee Support. Malka is a short non-profit film that aims to reach out to the public and promote empathy and understanding of refugees, seen through the eyes of a child.

The launch event on Friday 28th April featured a rich and varied programme, including an introductory talk by Ian Stewart of Suffolk Refugee Support, three screenings of Malka with and without subtitles, an exhibition and live speed-painting demonstration by artist Lois Cordelia, and live traditional Eastern European music and dance with an 11-piece band that included all of the original Malka musicians. Stefan and Lois spoke about some of the inspiring stories behind their local creative collaboration, and Lois also donated one of her paintings for a silent art auction. Additionally, there was circle dancing and a generous buffet meal.

The event was generously co-hosted by the award-winning Ipswich theatre group Red Rose Chain, whose ethos closely matches that of the Malka project: "Many of our practitioners and volunteers are those whose lives have been turned around by Red Rose Chain. We believe in change and have created a finely balanced, welcoming and creative environment which nurtures our participants, builds their self-esteem and radically improves their life."

Ipswich artist Lois Cordelia performed two live speed-painting demonstrations as part of the evening, painting along with the live music, to evoke the spirit of the film. The Malka launch also featured an exhibition of some of Lois' artwork for the film. A silent art auction raised £250 (a quarter of the total raised by the event).

"Malka" is a short film (4 m 52 s) dedicated to refugee children everywhere, evoking the journey of a young girl refugee, Malka, and her mother across wilderness and hardship in search of safety. The film features haunting acoustic music and lyrics by Stefan Freedman, accompanied by atmospheric mixed media illustrations by Lois Cordelia. The film in its entirety can be viewed here. Public sharing of the film is encouraged.

Responses to Malka

The film has already been circulated widely on the Internet and social media, inspiring a wealth of heartfelt and emotional responses, such as the following:


"Fascinating, astounding, haunting, very beautiful. An amazing venture for a great cause. A phrase that springs to mind: 'a modern Gesamtkunstwerk' of real beauty."

"I love this video. Through it I have felt the plight of refugees in a way that no amount of other media coverage could have done. Well done to all who have been involved in making it."

Stefan Freedman remarks: "The feedback from many people is passionate, nuanced and strongly affirming. My brother's (face-to-face) was the most surprising of all to me. He said that of all the creative projects over the years this one had gone furthest. Emotionally powerful and professionally impressive."


The development and future of Malka

Stefan Freedman was travelling on a train a few years ago when the idea for Malka first came to him. The music that began to flow together in his mind was originally inspired by a traditional Bulgarian folk tune. Stefan shaped his own lyrics to fit the music, evoking the words of a refugee mother to her young daughter, Malka, seeking to reassure her in the midst of unfamiliarity and confusion.

In Stefan's words:

"When Adrian [Lush] first urged me to record 'Malka' it was simply because he felt it was an exceptional song. We liked the idea of putting it on YouTube to share with friends.

"Once Lois started producing artwork, so captivating and emotive, I realised that the narrative needed exactly the right voice with an equal power. So delighted that my first choice vocalist, Sebastiana, was willing to come from Norwich to record with us.

"Once finished, the creative project seemed to merit an 'unveiling'. ... The unofficial one (for friends) was at the Ipswich Quakers on 17th March 2017, and the official open-to-public one was at the Red Rose Chain's Avenue theatre on 28th April. Combining the first public showing with a talk from SRS, entertainments and a meal - as a fundraiser for refugees - seemed to follow on naturally. I can't now recall who first suggested it or when, but how could it have been otherwise? Malka seems to have a life of her own!

"I couldn't in my wildest dreams have imagined the event raising over £1,000 for SRS. Very thrilled about this result. Big heartfelt congratulations to all involved.

"What happens next? The Malka video has the potential to serve in three ways. It touches people and creates empathy (even people like my brother who generally is not sympathetic with the refugee cause!). The artwork and music contain nuances, symbolism and many layers which provide an excellent stimulus for discussion. And as we've discovered and proven it can be the focus around which effective fundraising can be arranged." (- Stefan Freedman, May 2017)

Stefan is a teacher of traditional, sacred and circle dance, travelling worldwide to lead workshops and other events incorporating live music and displays. His dances use evocative music from all continents.

A smaller follow-up fundraising event is already scheduled for Sunday 16th July 2017 (17:00 - 19:00) at the Angel Cafe in Diss, Norfolk.


Thank You

Stefan and Lois wish to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in making the Ipswich launch event a success, including all musicians and support, everyone who attended and bought tickets for the launch event, helped out with catering, promotion, press, radio and media coverage, ticket sales and facilities, sold copies of Malka on DVD, gave talks, assisted with transport and set-up, and everyone who bid in the silent auction. Special thanks go to Joanna Carrick for agreeing to co-host the event at Red Rose Chain.


The music for Malka features the distinctive voice of Czech singer Sebastiana Black (based in Norwich), accompanied by a haunting mix of sounds created by various ancient musical instruments including the sackbut, shawm, bass viol and bowed psaltery. Musicians Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush and Andy Mapplebeck are all Ipswich-based.

Below: Czech singer Sebastiana Black (lead vocals)

Below: Left to right: Andy Mapplebeck, Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush, Lois Cordelia, January 2017. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above: Left to right: Andy Mapplebeck, Stefan Freedman. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above: Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above: Stefan Freedman. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.

Above:  Left to right: Andy Mapplebeck, Stefan Freedman, Adrian Lush, Lois Cordelia, January 2017. Photo credit: Tony Mounter.



(dedicated to refugee children)

Storm winds whistle in the sky
Birds cry, flying helter-skelter
Malka, walk a little more
Though your feet are sore
While there is still some light to guide us
Sorrel soothes our tired feet
Lovage we can eat
Look out for somewhere they won't find us

"When will we be going home?"
Malka, our future is unknown
Each day we'll be moving on
Till the danger's gone
We're following a road to freedom
Sing once more your favourite song
Keep your spirit strong
Hold all your dreams until you need them

"When can I play with my friends?"
Malka, so many paths were taken
Strangers, unfamiliar words
Like migrating birds
That vanish over moonlit mountains
Some day in another land
We'll dance hand in hand
We'll wash our feet in sparkling fountains

Storm winds whistle in the sky
Birds cry, flying helter-skelter
Malka, walk a little more
Though your feet are sore
Tomorrow we'll have better weather
Soon we'll stop and build a fire
Burning with desire
That one day there'll be peace forever

© Stefan Freedman

Ipswich-based artist Lois Cordelia began creating the artwork for Malka in May 2016. Over the following 6 months, she assembled a series of more than 60 visuals, inspired by Stefan's lyrics. Lois's mixed media illustrations combine painting, drawing, paper-cutting, brushpen, photography and digital effects, layered together to heighten the emotional intensity of each image.

One of the challenges that Lois faced was how to convey both the traumas and the aspirations of the young girl, Malka, in ways that touched people's emotions without being unbearably painful to watch. The film hints at the trials and hardships that Malka and her mother endure, but also plants seeds of hope for a brighter future.

Lois wanted her pictures to have a universal appeal, hence her depictions of Malka embrace various ages and different nationalities. She also emphasises the value of using creative activities as therapy for refugee children, suggesting how the young girl could express her memories of trauma through her own paintings. Remembering how to paint as a child was an important part of Lois's journey following in the footsteps of Malka.



simon whitney(non-registered)
Fabulous Lois Lovely pictures and both events have been very successful. You know the work you and others are doing is going straight to the people that need it.

Thank you
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