An internationally-acclaimed artwork which movingly tells the stories of refugees has opened at Leicester Cathedral and will be on display throughout the summer.
Photography by Will Johnston for Leicester Cathedral
‘Suspended’ by artist Arabella Dorman uses hundreds of items of clothing discarded by refugees who arrived on the island of Lesbos in Greece. Clothes and shoes are hung in what she describes as a “stilled explosion” suspended from a huge frame in the nave.
The incredible installation forms the centrepiece of a unique summer of events at Leicester Cathedral, at which people are invited to reflect on the individual lives behind each piece of clothing. De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and #DMUlocal is proud to be a partner in this project, whose core message is one of compassion and support for people seeking sanctuary.
Refugee families were at the launch event last night, led by the Very Rev David Monteith - which included Leicester Cathedral’s first hip hop gig courtesy of rapper Mohammed Yahya himself a refugee from Mozambique who now lives in London.
The Rev Canon Karen Rooms, Canon Missioner, Leicester Cathedral who is managing the project, said:“Suspended vividly expresses both a sense of ‘being at sea’ and exuberance of the human spirit through clothing we might easily recognise as our own.
“In recent years the Church has played a significant role in working alongside people seeking sanctuary in our communities from persecution and violence in other parts of the world and this installation portrays something of the stories we hear. In a city with a strong heritage of welcome I hope Suspended moves us all to celebrate the richness human flow brings and do more to help people move forward.”
Artist Arabella Dorman told the audience: “Suspended seeks to brings these lives to our attention and remind us of the urgent need for compassion, empathy and understanding as we reach out to our fellow human beings in plight.
“In doing so, it is a call to re-find the common thread that binds the mosaic of life together in celebration of our shared humanity.”
Alongside the installation itself will be a programme of talks, events, music, poetry, film, lectures, family activities and performance art. People can also find out how they can help volunteer with Leicester charities which help refugees and asylum seekers.
DMU postgraduate students Thanakoin, Nuttakarn and Lei who will research the project
DMU, through its outreach programme #DMUlocal, is running free Saturday art clubs throughout July between 10.30am to 12.30pm, in collaboration with artist Alison Carpenter-Hughes. Work will be displayed in the cathedral on August 25. Postgraduate students from DMU’s Leicester Castle Business School will be running a research project in collaboration with the cathedral to analyse visitors’ responses to the artwork.
The Cathedral’s partners and funders – ArtReach with Arts Council England, De Montfort University, the University of Leicester, Leicester City of Sanctuary and the British Red Cross – are committed to support, promote and celebrate activity that shares refugee experience.
David Hill, Director of ArtReach, said: “This is a major work, raising questions and creating empathy with thousands who are forced to flee their countries of origin. We look forward to creating an associated programme of events to further contribute to our Journeys 2018 and Journeys Festival International programmes.”
Pete Hobson, Chair Leicester City of Sanctuary, said: “Leicester City of Sanctuary is delighted to be a partner with the Cathedral in bringing Suspended to our city. This installation speaks powerfully to the experiences that lie behind many of the lives of those we work with, as asylum seekers and refugees. It offers us all an insight into what it can cost to live a life suspended between a traumatic past and a hoped-for future.”
Posted on Friday 22nd June 2018