Migration has always existed, and long before 1066, people have been making hazardous journeys and dangerous crossings. As part of ROOT1066, Murmurations Gallery presents the work of Bern O'Donoghue and Giovanna Del Sarto. These two artists explore some of the issues and myths surrounding migration since 2015 - as part of Another Crossing of people.
This was my first visit to Murmurations Gallery in Bexhill, it's an intimate space which encourages the viewer to get up close to the artworks and for this particular exhibition, Another Crossing, it works. The viewer is encouraged by the space to be confronted by the artworks that raise questions and highlight the plights of refugees.
O'Donoghue has been creating small origami boats, and has currently amassed more than 14,000, one for every missing refugee that is presumed to have drowned at sea. Reminiscent of works by Ai Weiwei, these boats highlight that many are dying in their attempt to reach safer ground and serves as a memorial to those that have died. To view a selection of these boats in the gallery is arresting, this is only a selection of boats and this is only a selection of people that are dead.
These delicate, colourful boats provide a contrast to Del Sarto's muted and sombre portraits. Providing faces to the many numbers the press bombard the public with, it is touching to see images of refugees finding joy in such a turbulent time in such dire situations. Del Sarto documents these people with slight of hand, which comes from volunteering and providing support to these families. (Del Sarto has been to Serbia, Lesvos Island, Mitileni, Molovos and many other refugee camps to provide support and help).
Del Sarto and O'Donoghue investigate the same crisis and their works, although contrasting in their development and execution create an installation that is asking to be explored, walking around the hanging photographs feels similar to walking and exploring new places. Another Crossing is a show that lingers in the mind.
The show is now closed, but the crisis has not resolved. It is interesting to note that 'migrant' and 'refugee' have become interchangeable. It might just be semantics and I might just be being pedantic, but this does not sit well with me, there is something about calling these individuals migrants that takes away from the horrors they attempt to escape.