Lucy Orta Traces: Stories of Migration is an exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery, offering an insight into the diversity of first and second-generation migration histories woven into the landscape of East London.
Led by international artist and researcher Lucy Orta, the participants of the Traces: Stories of Migration workshops came together to share textile knowledge, follow the threads of community migration and celebrate East London’s textile history.
The two year project involving over 80 residents of Newham and Tower Hamlets culminates in a collective tapestry of lived experiences.
The walls of the Nunnery Gallery reveal two distinct artistic responses that celebrate the collaboration. A ‘Portrait Gallery’ by Lucy Orta: a frieze of 40 textile portraits depicting the makers involved in the workshops. These stunning portraits are beautifully crafted from layered mesh and re-worked vintage textiles, echoing back the participants’ stories.
Textile ‘Story Cloths’ crafted by each maker depict their physical or metaphorical journeys using a range of dexterous textile craft techniques including knit, weave, embroidery, print, fabric collage and 3D textiles.
Also on display are excerpts from Needle Around Her Neck (Fair Acre Press), a collection of poems by author and Royal Literary Fellow Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, who accompanied the project. Nathalie’s poems are a response to meeting with the participants during the textile workshops and hearing their migration stories.
A film produced by AKO Storytelling Institute follows the journey of the Story Cloths and debuts at the exhibition.
Traces: Stories of Migration is on now until 27 August 2023, when it will move to new the UAL London College of Fashion Stratford campus.
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Text by Keren McConnell
Photography © Lori Demata