Concepts like ‘belonging’ and ‘home’ often feature in art and they are central to a new exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery’s Art Pavilion in Mile End, their drama contrasting with the quiet and starkness of the surroundings.
“I had this idea nearly for about two years or so, you know. I had this idea and it was always there. But I couldn’t see the subject matter explode,” said curator Katja Rosenberg.
Print works, painting, photography, 3D and digital art by guest artists and creatives of the East London Printmakers studio are part of this new exhibition titled A New Home. The collection shows interpretations of what it means to travel to a new place and to belong.
“We call it an exhibition on the concept of belonging, so it’s an exhibition about the individual human journey through life, really. But it’s obviously inspired by the current refugee crisis.” Rosenberg explained.
With this global issue regularly highlighted in the media, it can often feel like you hear several different stories, all with the same plot. Art cuts to the heart of the issue, Rosenberg argues, by telling “authentic, personal stories”.
“We have SouthBank mosaics. These are people who have trouble with the police or people who don’t have a home, so their pieces are importantly strong,” she explained.
Painter Ferha Farooqui, whose work is on display at the exhibition, said: “I try to cast people as characters, as well as buildings. London has always had these shifting communities that have come and gone and it is very much [based] around personal experience, having lived in East London since 1969.”
A New Home tells the stories of people who have lost their home due to political unrest and war, those who have lost family members and others simply on personal journeys in new places.
Participating artist Jennifer Busch produced sculptures to show what it means to find a material and emotional home. She said: “For me, it is about the journey and what it takes to get a new home. It’s not just cut and dry. I try to show the difference that a home can make in people’s lives. I interpret this from things around and inspired by the press.”
And in East London inspiration is everywhere. For hundreds of years people have crossed continents looking for a better life in the UK, many settling in London. But destruction and rebuilding aren’t things that only migrants face, according to local print artist Gini Wade:
“I visited Syria twenty years ago. When I was researching, I was looking at bombsites and I felt really moved especially when drawing and putting my piece together,” she said.
“It connected to my childhood memories of London bombsites and my parents’ store being bombed. So, you know, there is a personal connection,” she said.
A New Home opens on Thursday, February 4, and runs for the entire month.
For more information: www.artcatcher.co.uk