The Wave 2016

As a continuation of Flight, work is now underway for an installation artwork made up of thousands of salvaged lifejackets, for which Arabella's team have secured the release rights from the Greek authorities & Municipality of Lesbos. 

In collaboration with The Roll Out the Barrell Trust, Arabella is due to return to Lesbos to personally oversee the removal and transit of the lifejackets. Following The Wave, these lifejackets will be sent to support fishermen and their families on Lake Victoria, Africa.  The Wave will raise funds for Doctors of the World, and will be supported by an online interactive platform that explores the individual stories of refugees through audio recordings, image and text.

From afar, the thousands of lifejackets may be understood as an amorphous mass, a tidal wave that is breaking on the shores of Europe. On closer inspection however, the viewer is invited to reflect on the individual story and weight of meaning carried by each lifejacket.  

The absence of figures in the artwork reflects the transience of human life and pays homage to those thousands lost at sea during the crossing – humans who have literally became invisible. Through this absence, the work’s significance is rendered timeless, ubiquitous and universally applicable. 

Arabella is working on a ground installation in a prominent public space in central London, whereby thousands of salvaged lifejackets are laid flat, or rise gradually in the form of a wave. Technical aspects of the installation will depend upon space restrictions imposed by the venue.

Working sketches of 'The Wave' by Arabella Dorman, 2015

The Bigger Picture

So, this is my cry to you …

It is a cry of anguish, a plea that such suffering cannot go on.

It is a call to resistance – resistance against the horrors of war and the greed of the traffickers.

It is an act of empathy and solidarity - as we reach out to our fellow human beings.

And it is a tribute to those many hopeful souls who now lie in watery graves at the bottom of the Mediterranean.
— About Flight, Arabella Dorman, 2015

Since Arabella’s original conception of Flight & The Wave in September 2015, artists across the world have picked up on the initiative of using lifejackets and discarded materials to make installation artworks that highlight the plight of refugees today.

Arabella welcomes such responses and is seeking artistic collaboration with other artists involved in the crisis, including that of Chinese artist Ai WeiWei who recently visited Lesbos and announced his plans to create an installation artwork in Berlin made up of salvaged lifejackets.

In this context, Arabella’s work may be seen as a forerunner of an emerging global trend, as contemporary artists continue to seek meaningful ways of engaging with the largest migration crisis since WW2.