The work of several artists examining the plight of refugees and migrants is to go on show at The Artists Open Houses May Festival 2017, which will take place in Brighton, Hove and beyond over four weekends of May, from Saturday 6th May to 28th May.
⦁ One of the highlights will be The Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS), who will be bringing their New Union Flag project to Brighton. The New Union Flag project, by Brighton based artist Gil Mualem-Doron, aims to re-imagine the Union Jack, acknowledging and celebrating the communities that contributed to the UK’s cultural legacy.
Re-created with fabric designs from all over the world, including traditional textile designs of former colonised communities and various ethnic and national groups that live in the UK today, the New Union Flag transforms the traditional Union Jack from an architype of uniformity to a dynamic and on-going performance of diversity. The various textiles are placed on the Union Jack in relation to the geographical locations from which they originated, along with numerous small boats made from jiffy cloths representing past and present migration to and from the UK.
The New Union Flag project will include a ‘selfie movement’ which encourages people to take pictures of themselves with the flag and post on social media with the hashtag #NewUnionFlag. Table games, cushions, mugs and prints have been created as part of the project, as well as a DIY Diversity Flag workshop for adults and children.
⦁ Brighton-based photographer Russell Watkins will also exhibit his photo-series Syrian Stories, UK Aid at SEAS. In March 2017 the Syrian conflict entered its 6th year and the number of refugees it has created passed the 5 million mark. Since 2013, Russell has made a number of visits to both Jordan and Lebanon, documenting how aid from the UK government is helping many of the 2 million Syrian refugees that the two countries are hosting.
All of the people in the photographs received some kind of assistance, even though the conditions in which they are living are still incredibly challenging. Most of them simply want the fighting to end so that they can return home. Many of them are now laying down roots in their adoptive homes, getting jobs and sending their children to school.
The images and stories exhibited in Syrian Stories aim to convey their tremendous resilience, and that, despite the difficulties, help is getting through.
⦁ An exhibition of knitted and crocheted works at studio Rebel Yarns, called ‘Make it Happen: Homes for Refugees’ has also been created by local art activist Dani Ahrens. From intricate, personalised gifts to public and playful crocheted graffiti, these unique pieces convey mathematical and political ideas with wit and skill.
On Saturday 13th May 2-4pm, the house will host a Make it Happen: Homes for Refugees drop-in workshop, with the Hummingbird Project. Visitors are invited to imagine, create, design, draw, knit, paint, make, assemble…homes for refugees.
Dani Ahrens is also creating a collaborative blanket, incorporating the verse inscribed on the Patcham Pylons at the entrance to Brighton:
“Hail Guest. We ask not what thou art
If friend, we greet thee, hand & heart
If stranger, such no longer be
If foe, our love shall conquer thee.”
People are invited to contribute 10cm x 10cm fabric squares to complete the blanket. Anyone can make a square, and return it to Dani by the end of May, either by post or by dropping in at the Rebel Yarns open house.
SEAS – Socially Engaged Art Salon
2 Steine Gardens, BN2 1BT
50 Southampton Street