Traces: Stories of Migration - Story Cloths
2022 - 2023
Materials: Canvas, silk organza, hand and machine embroidery, beadwork
Dimensions: 90 x 90 x 4 cm each
Catalogued: Lucy Orta. Traces: Stories of Migration, Ed. University of the Arts London, May 2023 - ISBN 978-1-906908-84-3
Exhibition history: 2023 Nunnery Gallery, London and London College of Fashion, East Bank, London, UK
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
Lucy Orta’s Portrait Gallery pays homage to layers of East End history and the communities who now reside there. This body of work has evolved over two-years, through a program of community workshops engaging over 70 local residents who, each in their own way, identify as an immigrant.
The participants involved in Traces: Stories of Migration shared stories of their migratory journeys, describing the complexity of making a home in a city marked indelibly by mobility and constant change. For some, coming to East London was a promise of opportunity, of new adventures and discovery. For others, an unspeakable experience involving trauma, nostalgia and loss; a process of leaving behind lives, families and memories.
Each story has been carefully and attentively brought to life in the Portrait Gallery drawing on Lucy’s specialist embroidery and textile skills and new traditional techniques shared during the workshops. The practice of portrait making, with its roots in nationalism, class and power, is profoundly challenged in the context of this project. Here, these portraits represent a collective social experience, providing a deeply meaningful testament to the fact that London is, in fact, a city made up of many global trajectories. It is always on the move, it has no boundaries and its history belongs to us all.
Extract from the essay ‘We are but Shadows: Stories of Immigration in London’s East End’ by writer and critic Caroline Stevenson
Traces: Stories of Migration was delivered in partnership with Making for Change as part of UAL's The Portal Centre for Social Impact. The 'Portrait Gallery' was first presented at the Nunnery Gallery in London for the exhibition 'Lucy Orta. Traces: Stories of Migration' from 2 June to 28 August, 2023.