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Giovanna Del Sarto in between her photographs, with Bern O’Donoghue's paper boat installation in the background

Giovanna Del Sarto with her photographs, with Bern O’Donoghue’s paper boat installation in the background

Another exhibition, Another Crossing

HOT’s Erica Smith was lucky enough to visit the Another Crossing exhibition in Bexhill’s Murmurations Gallery whilst one of the artists, Giovanna Del Sarto was in the building.

Long before William the Conqueror landed on English shores, people undertook hazardous journeys in search of safety or fortune. The world in 2016 is experiencing a modern crossing; a refugee crisis of such enormity it challenges not only those fleeing war and persecution, but also for those living secure and peaceful lives. As part of ROOT1066 International Art Festival, Murmurations Gallery invited artists Giovanna Del Sarto and Bern O’Donoghue to confront our sense of shared humanity and question the notion of ‘other’.

Giovanna Del Sota

Giovanna Del Sarto

The work of documentary photographer Giovanna Del Sarto depicts points of transition in the lives of individual refugees. Giovanna’s A Polaroid for a Refugee project was born because she wanted to literally give something back to the subjects of her photographs in the refugee camps across Europe where she worked as a volunteer, not just a documentary photographer. Her poignant Polaroids reflect the inner strength and dignity maintained by refugees during their long and harrowing journeys. For every Polaroid she takes, she gives one to the refugee as a reminder of the moment, and on the back is a simple statement: “Where ever your destination may be – tell me when you feel you have reached a safe place.” This is an intention of hope, which sadly for some, may never be realised.

Bern O’Donoghue’s work looks at the power of words to shape or change perception. She presents Dead Reckoning and Refugees Crossing, ‘culture jamming’ projects that counter, remix and offer alternative representations of refugees and migrants. Since 2015, each time a refugee has died in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to reach the perceived safety of Europe, she has acknowledged their passing with a tiny origami boat marked with a relationship to another, a small dedication to someone’s son, daughter, neighbour or friend. Through an installation constructed of thousands of these fragile marbled paper reminders, Bern unpacks the statistics, asking the audience to consider the common ground we share with people who have lost their lives in the current crisis.


Bern O’Donoghue’s Dead Reckoning (detail)

Visitors to Murmurations Gallery are invited to collaborate in Refugees Crossing, which explores how small creative acts might foster progressive change. In the last twelve months, over 8,000 fact filled paper boats have been place in public spaces across the UK, Europe and the USA by members of the public keen to counter myths and prejudice about migration, refugees and asylum in their local area. Images of the boats are shared on social media encouraging others to get involved.

Throughout the month, visitors attending the exhibition will find many ways to explore the issues surrounding migration; as well as this interactive installation, building a flotilla of boats offering messages of friendship and hope that we can share with refugees and asylum seekers in Sussex, you will be able to view Giovanna’s maps in the gallery, charting the work she undertakes as well as the routes and methods refugees employ in their struggle to find safety.

See the gallery website for details of a Symposium on Thursday 22 September where a series of speakers, including Giovanna Del Sarto, will respond to the question “The global refugee crisis; what can and should our response be?” In the final week of the exhibition, there is an opportunity to hear Bern talk about her work at the De La Warr Pavilion. Giovanna and Bern aim to raise both awareness and action through the work they do. All proceeds from the sale of the newspaper they have produced for the exhibition will go to CESRT.

Murmurations Gallery, 17a Parkhurst Rd, Bexhill-on-sea  TN40 1DE
The gallery is directly opposite Parkhurst Church Hall, between two garages.
It is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10.30am–4.30pm

Exhibition events:
Refugee Crossing Workshop – Saturday 17 Sept 2-4pm. DLWP Studio. Free.
Symposium – Thursday 22 Sept 7.30-9.30 Sackville Methodist Church, Bexhill. Free
Pecha Kucha – Bern O’Donoghue speaks about her work – Tuesday 27 Sept 7–9.30pm De La Warr Pavilion Tickets via DLWP website.

Further information:

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Posted 17:43 Wednesday, Sep 7, 2016 In: Arts News

Also in: Arts News

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