Adopting Britain is a multi-media exhibition examining 70 years of migration to the UK, presented in partnership with Counterpoints Arts.
“In the run-up to the 2015 national election, with immigration high on the agenda, we ask what we can do to promote understanding and empathy for fellow human beings.“
Asking “Why do they come here?” and “What next?” Adopting Britain explores our moral and legal obligation to protect individuals who flee their countries in order to seek safety in Britain.
Documented in a series of images, original documents and audio recordings, are personal stories from some of the 30,000 members of Uganda’s Asian community to be expelled under Idi Amin in 1972. After initial hostility from Leicester City Council over fears of overcrowding, many Ugandan-Asians started their own businesses and had a major impact on the local economy – an area of Leicester now known as “The Golden Mile”.
Filmmaker Will Head creates portraits of genocide survivors from Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and the Holocaust who arrived as refugees in the UK. Wendy Ewald worked with children to create their own photographic projects, in “Towards a Promised Land” they tell stories of fleeing war or poverty in their home countries and arriving in Margate. The Open Society uses interactive comics to tell the story of families from Somalia and Sri Lanka.
Immigration detention is explored in James Bridle’s 3D computer model of Harmondsworth Removal Centre, and in Nana Varveropoulou’s “No Man’s Land”, a collaborative photographic project exploring life for some of the 2,500 people currently detained under UK asylum law. Both offer a rare glimpse into environments usually deemed “unphotographable” for reasons of security or secrecy.
Audiences are offered a chance to tell their story in interactive elements throughout the exhibition.
Whilst it doesn’t claim to sum up migration in the UK, Adopting Britain movingly explores some of the personal stories of migrants and refugees, and celebrates the contribution of migrant groups, opening up discussion around one of the most politically sensitive topics of this year’s election.
Friday 17 April – Sunday 6 September 2015
10am – 11pm
Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre