Thursday, 25 April 2013

Migration project

Inspired by the exciting Migration is Beautiful campaign and in solidarity with amazing artist Favianna Rodriguez, I've started working on the tiny seedling of a campaign about migrant rights here in the UK/Europe. 

In the Americas, they have chosen the monarch butterfly as a symbol of both natural migration and beauty. Here, I am using the barn swallow in a similar way.

The migration routes of swallows between their summer (yellow) and winter (blue) habitats closely mirror those of many humans. Barn swallows have a particularly mutualistic relationship with humans that stretches at least as far back as the beginning of recorded history, nesting almost exclusively in man made structures and feasting on the insects that could otherwise overwhelm and destroy human food crops. 

Swallows are also regarded as a harbinger of summer in most European folklore and therefore very welcome visitors in cold Northern climates. But all over the North, human migration is perceived as a threat, unnatural and unnecessary, a mentality that is underpinned by racism and xenophobia. 

I'm starting this project with the Haringey Migrant Support Centre to help with their fundraising for the London Legal Walk on the 20th of May. You can donate here.
Borders are manmade and arbitrary and we all cross them everyday; some are just more enforced than others. To demonstrate this, I created two stencils for people to make their own prints and then we calculated the distance they had traveled to get to London (as the swallow flies). My intention was that one would be for people who came as individuals and the other would be for families to represent themselves. 

But then I had an amazing chat with Carlton (who made the image above). He decided that although he had come from Jamaica on his own, he also wanted to print the swallows roosting on the wire to represent the togetherness he felt at the centre. So often, agencies that provide help for people in crisis work almost exclusively 1-to-1. In addition to this much needed support, Haringey Migrant Support Centre also provides a communal lunch, tea/coffee and now I'm pleased to say, a collective art project. And the whole thing is completely run by volunteers.

After reading that, you probably want the link to that fundraising page again don't you? Here it is

If you are an artist anywhere in Europe who would like to be involved in developing visuals for this campaign, please get in touch. We want this to cross as many borders as possible. Please spread this request widely.

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