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An afternoon of story sharing and creativity around immigration

We were incredibly excited to meet up and share food and stories with Edinburgh printmakers members, people with experience of economic and social migration and refugee and migrant support groups for our ‘Over the Borders’ event on June 21st.

The event was part of the open call for this Autumn’s members exhibition ‘The Mouth of a Shark’ – taking its name from British Somali poet Warsan Shire’s poem which has become a rallying cry for displaced people: “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”.

The afternoon was designed as an open invitation to share food and stories around the themes of migration and cultural identity – and to explore how our work and our membership can engage with these issues through 'The Mouth of a Shark' exhibition.

We also welcomed visitors from Europe, supported through our British Council work on the 'In from the Margins'. The project is working towards establishing a network of ‘studios of sanctuary’ residencies with refugee and migrant artists in printmaking across Europe, over the coming years.

Miguel Amado of Cork Printmakers and Kristien van den Oeven of Agalab in Amsterdam shared their own experiences of working with refugee and migrant groups, and some thoughts on how we might work together in the future.

Edinburgh Printmakers members Lindy Furby and Cat Outram led a half hour workshop creating a paper quilt, with each square representing thoughts about what ‘Home’ meant to everyone who had come along, creating a powerful patchwork of ideas and thoughts about ‘Home’. 

The stories shared over sandwiches and sketching were sometimes harrowing, sometimes inspirational but always rooted in personal experiences which have made us all who we are. We’ve also been hugely impressed by the range of ideas and offers from both members and partner groups who came along to the event and thought about how we can move forward with this work.

You can find more information about the call for proposals for our upcoming member exhibition “The Mouth of a Shark” here.

We’re working on an application to continue our work with Miguel and Kristien. With 70.8 million displaced people across the world this is an issue we can’t, and shouldn’t ignore, but it’s the personal stories and connections which will touch people and change minds and lives, one person and one connection at a time.

Thanks to everyone who came along! It was an inspirational afternoon and we’re looking forward to exploring these issues further and hearing our members’ own proposals for work to be included in this Autumn’s show.