Thursday 3 - Sunday 13 November
All Hallows Church, Chertsey Road, Twickenham, TW1 1EW
Embers: Remembering the forgotten in Peace and War. It captures Arabella's experience of Iraq, Afghanistan and Refugees.
Falling is an artwork by Arabella Dorman in response to the current humanitarian crisis of forced displacement across the world. At a time of Remembrance this installation is a tribute to the thousands of refugees whose lives and hopeful dreams have been engulfed by the waves of the Mediterranean.
As a war artist, Dorman travelled to Lesbos, Greece in September 2015 to work with the thousands of Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians arriving on the shores of Europe, fleeing war and persecution. Today, refugees continue to land in small rubber dinghies often traumatised, separated from their families, carrying with them the scars of war, the violence of their journey and traffickers alike, and the terror of a sea crossing in overladen boats on journeys that have claimed the lives of thousands. With several months still left in the year, 2016 is already the deadliest year on record for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean. And for those crossing from Libya to Italy, there is now one death for every 47 arrivals.
O’ hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea...
In response to this crisis and as an expression of the individual human dramas played out on the beaches of Lesbos, Dorman salvaged material discarded by refugees upon their arrival in Lesbos, in order to create an installation artwork.
With the help of local volunteers and the agreement of the Mayor of Mytilene & the Greek Authorities, Dorman transported this dinghy and life jackets from Lesbos to St James’s Piccadilly for an installation artwork entitled Flight.
The people who travelled on this boat were 62 of the millions of refugees who have entered Europe by boat in the last two years, most fleeing war. Violent conflict in the Middle East continues to threaten and claim lives every day, driving more people to seek safety in Europe. In turn however, human trafficking networks are becoming brutally efficient at exploiting and making profit from the vulnerability of migrants.
“There is still very little real recognition of the scale of this business or just how much money is being made from the misery and labour of people fleeing war or poverty.”
Kevin Hyland, the UK’s independent anti-slavery commissioner, said that recent surveys provide further evidence that the migration crisis is being used by human trafficking networks to target and exploit the most vulnerable. “There is a need for urgent action to protect these people,” he says. “I believe that a key focus for the UK and other governments must include collaborating with partners to prioritise safeguarding against the risks of modern slavery as part of the response to the migration and refugee crisis.”
At a time of Remembrance, Falling invites the viewer to identify with the plight of thousands who are forced to flee their land and homes and, as we do so, to consider the significance of our own humane responsibilities.
The poem below was written by Father Kevin Bell in response to Arabella's work and its message.
It’s my turn to sleep in the bottom of the boat
With unspoken feelings stuck in my throat
The storm has passed and I am on my way
Silent timbers rock and sway
My eyes are closed but I see his face
As he tugs the oars with a steady pace
Carried safely to I know not where
All my cares blow through his hair
Alone with others just like me
Hiding on the Syrian Sea
The weight of all that brought me here
Falling like a salty tear
Taste the dreams that fill my soul
Braking bleeding healing whole
Breathing out and breathing in
Tides of thought make heaven spin
Between the near and distant shore
I rise and fall, just like an oar
Remembering those so far from home
Who seek the peace we call our own
Portraits hung with fading prayers
The ghosts of children on empty stairs
Embers of a better day
Framed with more than words can say
Embers rising into flame
Leave the darkness tired and lame
Still the oars must creek and grind
Splashing water through my mind
The world is full of refugees
Christ is rowing on his knees
© Father Kevin Bell 2016