A REFUGEE artist has told how the welcome he received in Scotland has helped him build a better future.

Speaking as the row over the UK’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis escalates, Mousa AlNana said the welcome he had been given was a “green light” to move forward.

Originally from Homs in Syria, he had to flee the country when the war broke out and spent time in Egypt ­before a UN programme settled him in the UK.

He arrived in ­Glasgow in February 2019 as a refugee and, ­having already graduated with a ­degree in fine art from Damascus University, then studied a Masters at Glasgow School of Art in 2020.

The National: 8.	Mousa AlNana TO THEM (13) collage and mixed media on wood board (2017)

He is now one of the first artists­ ­chosen for a European wide ­programme, led by Edinburgh Printmakers, to support refugee talent.

READ MORE: France's Emmanuel Macron issues condemnation of UK over Ukraine

The residency programme is the first time arts organisations have ­offered “studios of sanctuary” to ­support refugee artists.

The residencies are aimed at giving opportunities to refugees and asylum-seeking artists and/or artists affected by forced migration, bringing them into mainstream programming.

AlNana said he was excited about having the opportunity to ­experiment in the studio, develop his network and work alongside Edinburgh ­Printmakers.

The National: Mousa AlNana TO THEM (THREE RELIGIONS, ONE PRAYER) collage and mixed media on wood board (2016)

“In particular I am looking forward to showing the world a different side of the refugee experience and tackling the stigma around refugees,” he said. “I hope too that this residency will act as inspiration for other displaced artists working in Scotland today.

“The welcome we found in ­Scotland was a green light and a ­motivational start for spreading our roots in this country and build the future we were looking for, where there are no ­stigmas and no difference between a refugee and a local,” said AlNana. “I am hoping we can achieve that through art and unite in the name of humanity.”

He added: “A refugee is a human who is looking for a better place and a new start. We all can be refugees ­wherever we are looking for those missing parts to complete our ­journey. Having this welcoming space and this platform to be who we are and ­express ourselves as humans and ­artists is a key to unlock new ­possibilities and open new horizons to not just ­nourish ourselves but also to build our ­communities wherever we are.”

The National: Mousa AlNana UNORTHODOX HERETICS (3) collage and mixed media on wood board (2020)

The selected artists will have the opportunity to work in a print ­medium of their choice and will be supported to develop their practice over a month-long residency.

IN total 30 artists will take up residencies across all venues in 2022 and the results will be exhibited culminating in a group show at Edinburgh Printmakers in Spring 2023. The €178,000 Creative Europe funded project connects Edinburgh Printmakers with counterparts in Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Slovenia.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon and Holyrood leaders call for more action on refugees

Scottish Pakistani Aqsa Arif, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art, is another one of the artists chosen for the residency.

The National: 8.	Mousa AlNana TO THEM (13) collage and mixed media on wood board (2017)

“Having moved to Scotland as a refugee aged five, this displacement has been the largest source of psychological conflict in my life,” she said. “I experienced life with the split of two cultural identities and this duality of belonging is a theme I explore in my own art practice.”

She said she was looking forward to developing her ideas and learning new skills to integrate into her work.

“The supportive creative environment provided by this residency will allow me to directly engage with these issues and express my own ­experiences from a more vulnerable and conscious place,” said Arif.