Photographer and writer Caroline Irby spent fifteen months finding, photographing and interviewing one child from the world’s 192 countries, now living in the UK. A selection of the photographs from this project are now on display in A Child from Everywhere at the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The exhibition also contains a series of short films that the artist made for Channel 4 featuring some of the interviews with the children.
The project began as a series for the Guardian newspaper and took Irby across the length and breadth of the British Isles in her search for communities from all over the world. Through schools, city councils, refugee groups, embassies and word of mouth, Irby located children from 185 different countries living in the UK, from Cornwall to the Orkney Islands.
Caroline Irby who has photographed for aid agencies including Save the Children, UNICEF and Oxfam specialises in photographing children all around the world and says that this project brought together both her love of working with children and a fascination in the issues surrounding immigration. As well as taking photographs of the children, Irby spent time talking to the children about their expectations of the UK, cultural differences, thoughts on the future, and details about their everyday life, school, family, friends, food and lifestyle. Inevitably some of the children she interviewed had suffered the traumas of war, poverty or disease in their home countries and for them and their families the UK represents a new start.
The photographs of the children currently on display include Aura who was adopted from Guatemalan orphanage who now lives in Oxford; Juan from Chile, now living in the Orkney Islands, where his father is head of production on a salmon farm; and Emmanuel, a Sudanese refugee living in Bolton who fled his country via Uganda.
Hear photographer Caroline Irby talking about A Child from Everywhere:
A Child from Everywhere will be on display at the V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, from 7 May to 30 August 2010. Admission to the exhibition and the museum is free.
The entire collection of Caroline Irby’s photographs and extracts of interviews with the children have been published in a book of the same name by Black Dog Publishing. Proceeds from the book are being donated to Oxfam in support of their children’s aid programmes.
Hear Caroline Irby describe some of the children she interviewed:
Audio by Edwina Pitman. Photos by Caroline Irby.