Explore Lewis Murphy’s Belongings in our archive.
‘Somehow people have forgotten a very simple truth; no one wants to be a refugee. Exile is a terrifying, lonely, confusing experience.’ Caroline Moorehead, Human Cargo
In September 1939, 300 young children were evacuated to Glyndebourne. These bomb-startled and traumatised children from London were restored by their time at Glyndebourne, running in the fields and meeting the local animals. The evacuees left behind letters and toys which were found hidden under the floorboards in the old green room, which served as an impromptu dormitory during their stay. Inspired by these letters and their stories, Lewis and Laura began to develop Belongings.
It was early 2016 and it felt impossible to make a purely historical piece about war and evacuation without considering what was happening not 100 miles away in Northern France; where thousands of unaccompanied children were gathering, desperate to find their way across the channel to England.
As the refugee crisis unfolded, images of desperate people willing to risk everything to reach Europe and the UK flooded our screens; the image of the lifeless body of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi- drowned as his family tried to make their way to Greece from Turkey – had been etched onto our minds just a few months before.
Two years on and the refugee crisis continues; Amnesty International are calling 2017 the deadliest year so far for refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean, with 2000 people having lost their lives since January. Camps in France have been destroyed and refugees dispersed across the country, only to re-emerge and return to try their luck again on the perilous attempt to reach England by any means.
The famous human rights defender, Helen Bamber, asserted that as individuals who have not suffered trauma, conflict or violence we had a ‘duty to the stranger’ who has had such experiences, to bear witness; “I cannot bring back the dead,’ she said, ‘or change history, but I will be your witness and your story will be told.’
Belongings attempts to bear witness, to people young and old, who have been forced to flee their homes, to leave everything they know behind, and to step into the unknown in the hope of finding safety.
Lucy Bradley, Director