There are many reasons why a person might wish to migrate. Daunting a prospect though it may be, it can sometimes be a necessary way forward in life.
Despite the challenges involved in migration, it can sometimes be these very challenges which can have a positive effect on those who pursue it. For example, there are some undeniably fine pieces of creativity in the art world which have links to migration.
The output of Karen McCarthy Woolf is a key example here. Woolf was born in London to English and Jamaican parents- it’s no wonder, therefore, that the subject of migration forms such an interest for this talented poet. Woolf’s most famous work is An Aviary of Small Birds (2014), a poetry collection commemorating a bay son who died at childbirth. Travel is something that unites the human world with the animal world, and many of the struggles (like the death of a child) remain the same. Woolf is currently a resident at the National Martine Museum, responding to an exhibition on international migration. There’s little need to wonder what the major fuel behind Woolf’s inspiration is.
Having collaborated with a variety of figures ranging from artists to filmmakers, musicians and choreographers, Woolf has performed her work in the UK, the US and Europe. Maybe it’s her background of migration which has instilled such an interest in travel.
Another prominent artist who works prominently with migration is Sophie Herxheimer. Like Woolf, Herxheimer combines poetry with other artistic formats- visual art, in this case. She drew poetic images for National Poetry Day. Indeed, ink drawing is something of a passion for Herxheimer, who is known to harness its links to the unconscious, using the ink’s fluidity to match the speed of thoughts, feelings and ideas which come and go so fast. This concept is one which many migrants will be familiar with: a lack of stability, with everything changing promptly.
An ongoing project for Herxheimer is the collection of stories from members of the public by listening to what they say and chronicling those stories in ink. Migrants no doubt hear countless stories on their travels, and will connect to this idea on a deep level.
One may question the need for migration in a world already filled with enough struggle. However, in some way, we may be grateful, as, without it, many creative masterpieces would not exist. Indeed, Herxheimer has observed this very thing in relation to her part in the Migration, on which she has commented: “A Museum of Migration seems an essential idea. A space to consider who came and who left, what was brought, taken, found, offered… If we don’t share and identify with each other’s stories it’s so much harder to take our own steps forward: this particular journey is all any of us have got.”
– Luke Mayo, Correspondent (Art)