Online exhibition tells life stories of refugees and asylum seekers

Monday 7 December 2020

From Birth Till Death Life Stories

The moving life stories of some of the capital's most vulnerable people is being presented in an art exhibition at the Horniman Museum and Gardens from Saturday 5 December 2020 to Sunday 14 March 2021.

The exhibition, From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories, which is now available to view online due to the national lockdown, is the final stage of a collaborative art project between the museum's Community Learning Team, artist R.M. Sánchez-Camus (Marcelo) and organisations including Guy's and St Thomas' Health Inclusion Team and St Christopher's Hospice in Sydenham.

More than 40 painted scrolls will be featured including the life stories of asylum seekers and refugees who are supported by the Health Inclusion Team at an asylum seekers’ hostel.

Every scroll tells a local life story through a series of painted symbols representing key chapters in the life of contributors. Suspended from the ceiling, the scrolls float within a soundscape interspersed with the voices of their makers.

The nurse-led Health Inclusion Team provides a range of health services at the hostel for some of the most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, including adults and children. Many people have been trafficked and have been victims of torture and rape. The occupational therapy team from the Trust support residents to improve their mental wellbeing.

Tracey Reeves, from the occupational therapy team with Guy's and St Thomas' Health Inclusion Team, said: "This exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on the lives and experiences of people who can sometimes be invisible to many of us.

"Marcelo [the artist] did a fantastic job, sensitively encouraging people to tell their life stories in their own way. The use of symbols empowered them to pinpoint crucial landmarks in their lives and to see the importance of their journeys. The residents were able to sit and reflect on their lives without judgement and to recognise that their individual story is important to us all. Using art in this way has positive effects on mental wellbeing, lifting the spirits and giving a sense of control and setting a foundation for the future."

Last updated: March 2022

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