Artangel Goes Down To Margate To Present Towards a Promised Land, Part II

By Caroline Lewis | 29 March 2006
black and white photo of a boy with fair hair and a serious expression with the words It happened that we had to leave our lovely city handwritten next to his head

Uryi, fom Belarus. Courtesy Artangel

Banner-sized portraits of children who have moved to England from other countries will go on show around the centre of Margate, Kent, from May 20 2006 in the second and final phase of the photographic project ‘Towards a Promised Land’.

The children in the larger-than-life pictures come from as far afield as Belarus and Egypt, Belfast and Iraq, or closer to home – London and Derby.

They arrived on the Isle of Thanet for diverse reasons and now their faces will provide thought-provoking images on banners in Margate Library, on the walls of a cinema, in the Dreamland funfair, in a pub, a fish and chip shop and a domestic home.

black and white photo of the back of a boy's head with handwriting saying My favourite programme is news because if there's trouble that way I can tell people

Christian. Courtesy Artangel

“For a child to leave home – whether it’s walking out of Afghanistan or moving from Wales with a family to make a fresh start – is a transforming experience,” said the photographer behind the project Wendy Ewald. “I hope to understand what it’s like to make the epic moves they’ve made, and to acknowledge that they are truly among us.”

The first phase of the Artangel project saw 15 large-scale black and white photographs of children newly arrived in Margate displayed on the Sea Wall, some faces looking out to sea, others inland towards their new life in town with the backs of their heads on view to anyone who should be out at sea.

American photographer Wendy Ewald has explored the children’s different experiences fleeing war, poverty or political unrest and of being uprooted through changes in domestic circumstances by interviewing and photographing them over a period of two years.

black and white photo of the back of a girl's head with fair hair in a pony tail over which is handwritten I don't feel any different from the people who were born here

Gemma. Courtesy Artangel

The children chose the Margate locations where Wendy shot their portraits – their new hometown and their 'promised land' where their families hope to have a better life. They showed her possessions brought with them from home. Photos of these evocative items will be displayed with the portraits, suggesting places and lives left behind.

In the time Wendy spent on the project she also taught her subjects to use a camera and how to use it as a tool to engage with the reality of relocation and express their reactions.

Wendy is internationally recognised for her work teaching photography to children and young people, which she has been doing for 25 years.

a photograph of a boy with writing on it saying I don't believe it, me in Europe?

Christian. Courtesy Artangel

The results of this aspect of the project and some of Wendy’s earlier work will be displayed in Margate Library from May 20 2006. Towards a Promised Land has been developed and funded by Artangel, Creative Partnerships and the Small Voice Foundation

May 20 also sees the launch of The Margate Exodus, the headquarters of which will open on Margate High Street. Here, locals can find out how to get involved in the re-enactment of the Biblical exodus story during events due to be held at the end of September. See www.themargateexodus.org.uk for more information.

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