Category Archives: Exhibitions

Migration Museum: Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond

Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond

2 June – 22 June 2016  | 12pm–8pm (open every day) | Free admission
Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch St, London E2 7DP
Transport: Overground (Shoreditch High Street – 2 min walk), Tube (Old Street/Liverpool Street – 10 min walk), Bus (8, 23, 26, 35, 47, 48, 67, 149, 242, 388)

The Calais camp has become a potent symbol of Europe’s migration crisis. Public opinion on this ever- evolving shantytown and its inhabitants is polarised: to some a threatening swarm seeking entry to our already overstretched island-nation, to others a shameful symbol of our failed foreign policy. Amid such debate, it is easy to lose sight of the thousands of individuals who have found themselves in limbo in Calais, each with their own story and reasons for wanting to reach Britain.

Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond is a multimedia exhibition, taking place in a momentous month that sees both the EU referendum and Refugee Week. It explores the complexity and human stories behind the current migration crisis, with a particular focus on the Calais camp.

The exhibition features compelling works by established and emerging artists, refugees, camp residents and volunteers. These include a powerful new installation by award-winning artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, art by ALPHA using materials from the camp, drawings of Calais by illustrator Nick Ellwood, art and photography by camp residents, and an installation of lifejackets embedded with the stories of their wearers. It will serve as a forum for a range of discussions, film screenings and performances, including a poetry evening hosted by Michael Rosen. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to leave their responses, which will become part of an art piece by artist-in-residence, Cedoux Kadima.

The Migration Museum Project would like to thank the following donors for their generous grants and support, without which we would not have been able to stage this exhibition: Londonewcastle, Arts Council England, ESRC, Citizenship and Governance Research at The Open University, The University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and all of the generous contributors to our crowdfunding campaign, including Michael and Em O’Kane, David Warren, Richard Buccleuch and Tom Jupp. We would also like to thank Counterpoints Arts for their advice and support during the planning of this exhibition.

View and download the press release here.

Events associated with this exhibition:

Birds Crossing Borders drop in art workshop, 4 June 2016, 2 -4 pm

Poetry of Migration, 6 June 2016, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

What is Britishness? 14 June 2016, 7 – 9 pm

Join the conversation on Twitter using #CalaisStories. You can find us at @MigrationUK.
Share our Facebook event page and let us know if you’re coming to the exhibition!


Exhibition: Lingering Ghosts by Sam Ivin

The artist Sam Ivin has recently published details of his latest project entitled `Lingering Ghosts’ which looks at the UK migration system and how it treats asylum seekers looking to find refuge here in Britain.

Further details of this project can be found on the website at

From Poland to Waltham Forest: New Exhibition Highlights 150 Years of Polish Migration to Waltham Forest

The Vestry House Museum is currently displaying an exhibition entitled, From Poland to Waltham Forest which runs at  as part of the E17 Art Trail.  The exhibition is on display between the 30th May and the 14th June 2015 and focuses upon 150 years of Polish migration to Waltham Forest in London.

This exhibition marks the conclusion of a Heritage Lottery Funded project to undertaken by Share UK, a non profit organisation based in Waltham Forest, with the aim of revealing how there has been a long history of Polish migration to Waltham Forest with evidence of Polish migration to the area from the mid 1800s through to the present day.

The history and heritage of “Characters from over 150 years of migration come to life through film, photography, audio and archive materials” can now be discovered both within the exhibition and also the project website which is now available online at:

Reflecting upon the project, Share UK’s Esther Freeman said: “Since this area has existed in its current urban form there have been Polish people living here. They established businesses, raised their children and contributed to the community both economically and culturally, much like they do today.”

Further details are available from the website at and the exhibition is currently running at the Vestry House Museum until the 24th June.


Black Bloomsbury Small Exhibition – UCL

Black Bloomsbury
A small exhibition has opened at the UCL Art Museum space – Black Bloomsbury looks at the work of UCL Slade Students between the wars and displays some of their artworks depicting the Black presence in London.
More information about opening times and events can be found on the UCL website: and the Equiano Centre website .

Exhibition: Somalia photo exhibition at Royal Geographical Society

Somalia photo exhibition at Royal Geographical Society

Where: Royal Geographical Society, London
When: 11.02.2013 – 15.03.2013

ICRC Somalia ExhibitionThe ICRC is celebrating the extraordinary courage and resilience of ordinary Somalis in an exhibition of photos at the Royal Geographical Society. Organized in cooperation with the Somali Red Crescent and the British Red Cross, the exhibition illustrates how humanitarian organizations have worked with Somalis over the last 30 years. Entry is free.

For further information: [ICRC website] and [Royal Geographical Association website].



Exhibition – Hidden Lives: The Untold Story of Urban Refugees, London, 6-31 January 2013

Hidden Lives: The Untold Story of Urban Refugees, London, 6-31 January 2013

About the project

Over half the world’s refugees now live in large towns and cities where they are confronted by a unique set of challenges. The traditional image of life in tented, sprawling camps no longer tells the full refugee story. As urbanisation reshapes much of the world, refugees too are increasingly moving to large towns and cities.
In addition, urban areas are rapidly expanding, making them increasingly vulnerable to man-made and natural disasters. With this explosive growth come new types of risks, vulnerabilities and potential humanitarian crises.

The classic picture of a refugee in a camp is changing. Refugees and displaced people move to the city in the hope of finding a sense of community, safety and economic independence. However, in reality, what many actually find are harsh living conditions, lack of security and poverty.

Working with the International Rescue Committee and the European Commission’s humanitarian aid and civil protection department ECHO, Panos Pictures photographer Andrew McConnell has spent many months documenting this new reality in eight cities across four continents. Through images, refugee testimonies, and video, the resulting body of work presents a unique insight into the lives of urban refugees today and challenges the commonly held stereotypes. From Somali refugees in Nairobi to Syrian refugees in north Jordan, and from Burmese refugees in Kuala Lumpur to Afghan refugees in New York, the story of where people flee when all is lost is changing…

Further information can be found at:

Re-blog: The USA: A Nation of Archived Immigrants

The following has been re-blogged from the Archival Platform blog:

The USA: A Nation of Archived Immigrants

The USA: A Nation of Archived Immigrants

The USA: A Nation of Archived Immigrants

Ellis Island seems a quick stop for most of those who pour out of the boat after the all-important stop at the Statue of Liberty. Most wander in a take a look at the new exhibition on the ground floor – “JOURNEYS: The Peopling of America – 1550-1890”. To the left as you enter the main building on the island, you can walk through a short corridor and into the American Family Immigration History Center. For $5 you can get assigned a computer where for 35 minutes you can search the records of people who arrived in the U.S. through the island. You can then go and continue your search at home at your leisure afterwards.

The U.S. prides itself of being a nation of immigrants. A steady flow of immigrants has been arriving on American shores since the 1700s. The flow peaked between 1880 and 1924. Ellis Island was the country’s busiest immigration inspection station between 1892 and 1954. It was the first Federal immigration station following the Federal government’s assuming of control of immigration in 1890. A third of the country’s population today – approximately 100 million people – traces its history via ancestors who arrived through the island. Those who arrived came from countries such as Poland, Ireland, Lithuania, Italy, China, Barbados, Japan, England and Sweden. The first immigrant to pass through the station was a 15-year-old Irish girl by the name of Annie Moore on January 1, 1892. However, the wooden building housing the immigration station was destroyed by a fire in 1897 and along with it immigration records dating back to 1855. New fireproof buildings were subsequently constructed.

Immigrants arriving on the island had to show that they had enough money to settle and get themselves started – between $18 and $25 – and that they had secured passage to their final destination. They were inspected for any visible signs of ill health. Anyone who was not well would be placed in the hospital on the island. In some of the exhibitions you see ragged-looking people clutching all their worldly possessions, waiting in line to be inspected. Many of the people who passed through island who were interviewed in various oral history projects speak of the terror that gripped immigrants as they disembarked from their ships. If a person was denied entry into the country, they would be deported to their port of origin. That would be the end of the dream of a new and better life for anybody who crossed the seas seeking opportunity. Only 2% of those who sought entry were turned away though.

Once you get past the condensed version on the ground floor and explore the sprawl on the other three floors, you encounter remarkably-told stories of the experiences of people who immigrated. You learn about the things that compelled people to leave their places of origin – religious persecution, famines, and downright adventure in some cases; through how they settled in the new country – some became successful business owners, some found work, while others ended up homeless and destitute. As you move from room to room, among others you see exhibitions on industry, labour, children’s experiences, political participation, detention, aid societies, and medical care. It takes at least half a day to browse the exhibitions.

When the immigration station closed, the island was abandoned. It became a ruin until a project to restore it was begun in 1966. It took until 1982 for construction to begin and it lasted until 1990 when the museum opened to the public. Now genealogists and anybody who wants to trace ancestors that immigrated through Ellis Island can hop on the boat at New York Harbour and go across to Ellis Island or simply go online to search for names.

The American Family Immigration History Center was set up in collaboration with the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints. On the Center’s search, when you find the name of a person you are searching for, you typically find three pieces of information matched to the name: the ship’s manifest, a typed version of the person’s details extracted from the ship’s manifest, and an image of the ship on which the person travelled. The passenger record is sparse on detail, but it has some useful information: first name, last name, ethnicity (which usually means nationality), last place of residence, date of arrival, age of arrival, gender, ship of travel, port of departure, and manifest line number. The details of the ship offer clues that can be helpful as well, such as who owned the ship, when and where it was built and by what company, what colours it flew, and any known change of ownership of the ship.

I cast around for some potential South African surnames to look for, not expecting that all that many South Africans landed on Ellis Island during its years of operation. The search options are rather limited: first name, last name, approximate year of birth, and gender. I was alerted before beginning my search that the ethnicity of South Africans often shows up as British and that most would have sailed from ports in England. Unlikely as it was to have been a South African of that surname who landed on the island, Zulu was the only surname I could come up with.

There were several names with Zulu in them, such as several people who came from Colombia called Zuluaga and one from Cuba named Zuluaza. The only Zulu was a Rudolf Zulu from Austria. The people who are most likely to have been South African were two 14 year olds, James and John Zulue. James arrived on May 3, 1924 on the ship Aquitania, which had sailed from Southampton in England. The person(s) named John appear(s) as arriving 10 times from Southampton on the Aquitania, the first time being on April 11, 1924 and the last being on December 31 of the same year.

Having paid $5 and now able to conduct searches and save them, I am now trying to think up other names to look up. The extent to which immigration is embraced and how records of it are kept in the United States is something to admire.