Newcastle, November 2018: A group of expat British, Scottish, Welsh and Irish women meet to discuss their participation in the Migrant Women Project 2018/19
Migrant Woman Project 2018/19
Origins: looking forward, looking back only to find yourself, caught, in the space of in-between is a collaborative visual research project and exhibition that documents the migrant experience of six women who have collectively shared their memories of the past while contemplating the present. The project textually and visually catalogues the journey of the women who originally come from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, but are now living in Newcastle, Australia. They each have individual, personal stories of migration to retell and jointly, over the duration of this year-long project, they have reconsidered the impact that migration has had in shaping their sense of self in place, who they are and how they live today.
The Book of Ruth: ‘a migrant woman who saved a nation’ is a theological narrative that forms as part of the Old Testament and is the historical and feminist touchstone for the Migrant Women Project. This visual research project is practice-led and collaborative and will explore felt experience, memory and the many side effects that inform the migrant experience. In this instance, an interdisciplinary, creative lens, combined with individual, personal stories of migration blend to provide the content for a series of works of art and a proposed exhibition.
In its essence, The Book of Ruth reveals the plight and resilience of how a foreign migrant woman, alongside the support of female family members, had the capacity to change the course of Judaic history. A key feature to finding meaning and understanding in the text is located in Ruth's ability to effect great change within her adopted community and nation. A major theme embedded in the text is the powerful and leading role of that of the stranger, which provides the migrant women project space to ponder our own strangeness. As the protagonist, Ruth’s strength of character and commitment to her tribe and host nation is never in doubt. This in itself presents the group with the question of what it means to belong and what does a good citizen look like? The beauty of this story is that it has survived time and space, providing an all-encompassing, legitimate framework for expression that advocates the project’s position that your story of migration matters.
Overview: Personal stories of migration provide the content and framework for the development of this year-long collaborative project. The aim of the project is to produce a series of narrative-based works of art that are materially cognisant with an individual, female, migrant experience. A process of collaboration and exchange between lead artist, Dr. Annemarie Murland and the group will focus on developing the concept, your story of migration matters. To that end, the women will be encouraged to reflect and share their experiences on the advantages and disadvantages of migration, it's emotional, physical and temporal side effects [if any] through textual responses and visual media.
Stage one of the project will commence with each woman creating a daybook that will function as an archive. This book will provide the space for reflection and will act as a keeper of memories, experiences and creatives influences. To that end, maintaining a daybook will assist each person in developing a visual voice and an understanding of the creative process. At the same time, the collection of text and material knowledge will help establish a working methodology that not only directs the creative process but expands the knowledge base of female migration. Initially, however, the daybook will focus on gathering a range of keywords that reflect each woman's individual thoughts and experience on the subject matter. The collection of words will be cataloged into homogenous groupings that in turn will find form through a series of traditional and experimental visual strategies. Alongside the use of new technology platforms, the text will be further processed into binary code. Our aim is to create a computerised index of the individual and the collective, the disparate and the uniform that occurs throughout the duration of the project. Together, this collection of sensory and digitised material data will offer a contemporary re-reading of the migrant experience. More importantly, however, it will be interesting to determine how telling one’s story in a creative and formal way affects, or not, one’s sense of self in place.
The expected final outcome of the project is that each participant will develop a personal book of Migration, example, [The Book of Sue….]. The text shared from each daybook will be deconstructed using a series of visual tropes to create an installation work of art that is materially and contextually appropriate to the ideas embodied in the text. Through a process of collaboration, the group will also make ‘handmade paper' for a suite of works on paper that reflect an individual approach to authorship. We will also employ new media platforms as part of our data collection process that will be transformed, in some way, into a digitised work of art. Finally, an exhibition that showcases each woman’s participation together with the collaborative works of art is the predicted outcome.