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Exhibition / The Jungle

In a big flutter birds lift up into all four directions and the in-between ones, too…

Residents of the migrant camp in Calais have started new journeys of defiance, obedience, relief or surrender – responding to the determination of the French authorities to finally win control back over the camp and clear it off residents. Off the face of the earth.

Staff from Good Chance Theatre are on the ground to witness and share – so far, they say, the atmosphere has been calm and pragmatic.

Our birds have once more spread their wings and moved to a temporary location: they are at Shoreditch Town Hall receiving visitors to the performance ‘Phone Home’ by Upstart Theatre that’s showing from 19-30 October.

This also involved moments of defiance, obedience, relief and surrender because of the unexpected limitations of trying to set up an exhibition in a listed building where nothing – no nails, tools, tape, blue tack, white tack – is allowed on the walls and nothing is to hang off the ceiling… We got there, in the end, and staff from Upstart Theatre & Shoreditch Town hall helped to create a space where ‘the photographs as well as the cards make a powerful statement‘ (Tom Mansfield, Artistic Director, Upstart).

For information about the show and booking tickets follow click here.


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Birds Crossing Borders exhibition launched

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Exhibition / News

RM birdcards 1

On 01 September, we celebrated the opening of our Birds Crossing Borders exhibition with over 35 guests in an evening of sharing stories of migration and sharing food.

We were excited to be joined by Nick Cowell and Carla Ferrari, two of six artists who created a bird design for our postcard set. We were also very pleased that some of our partners could join us because their support has been vital to the project: Nicki and Natasha from Rich Mix who are currently hosting our exhibition from 01-09 September; Kirstin from Good Chance Theatre who hosted our art workshops in The Jungle/Calais, and Lee from Calverts Co-operative who printed the set of 1500 bird cards for free.

colouring inOur project has always been about creating a space for dialogue – and that’s what we managed to achieve with this evening where within an hour people were chatting with each other that had only just met, got ideas for new creative collaborations as well as a new understanding about the situations of migrants and the power of the art in creating moments of peace and hope.

The feedback about the exhibition was overwhelmingly positive and visitors fed back that they took away:



art can create peace of mind

collaborative ideas for the future

the power of creativity to create connection

a renewed appreciation of the power of art to create a space of safety and open dialogue

that very simple things – colouring in the bird – can can make a big difference

an eye-opening experience … I hadn’t thought about … before – but now I will!

that migration is not some weird alien thing. Lots of us have done it but have had the benefit of way more support

We felt a real sense of recognition in the feedback by a group of visitors who summed the exhibition up as ‘simultaneously heart-breaking and hope-giving‘.

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If you haven’t seen it yet you can still do so: it’s free and open daily until 09 September from 9am to 11pm in the Lower Cafe Gallery at Rich Mix.

Events for Birds Crossing Borders

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Exhibition / News

We’re excited to announce two London events:

Join us on 01 September 6-8pm for the launch of the Birds Crossing Borders exhibition at Rich Mix’ Lower Cafe Gallery. Click here for more details.

And if you fancy contributing to the creative dialogue why not joining us for a free drop-in arts workshop on 08 September 6-8pm at Rich Mix’ Lower Cafe Gallery. One of the most popular activity during our art workshops in the Jungle/Calais was colouring-in: men of all ages and backgrounds spent hours colouring in bird designs – most of which will be on display in the exhibition.

And we’ve decided to bring colouring-in from Calais to London and invite you to an evening of conversation about what each of us can do to respond to growing anti-immigration attitudes since the Brexit vote – while colouring in…


Rich Mix Map

For any questions please get in touch with petra@deepblack.org.uk


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Today a year ago – on 29 July 2015 – a desperate journey of 733 would-be migrants crammed into two tiny fishing boats ended safely on the shores of Italy after a rescue mission by MSF.

Photographer and film maker Paolo Pellegrin and writer Scott Anderson witnessed the delicate rescue mission and created the powerful multimedia documentary ‘Desperate Crossings’ for the New York Times which you can watch here.




Moving On

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Exhibition / News

Exhibition close xsIf I could draw cartoons I know exactly what I’d draw right now: a tall and steep cliff that looks unsurprisingly not unlike the White Cliffs of Dover . And at its foot, almost lost in the vast shadow cast by the very cliff: I’d draw a small little building saying ‘Gallery’. Still, you’d be able to see the beauty of the gallery: a modern yet quirky design, welcoming and vibrant, colourful and bright, inviting and cosy with lots of paces to hang out, get comfy, share and listen.

The gallery showcases Birds Crossing Borders. In the vast shadow of today’s EU-Referendum. For the past three weeks a small selection of our Birdcards have been exhibited alongside other art work in response to the situation in Calais at an arts exhibition curated by the Migration Museum Project.

While outside the gallery space, ‘migration’ was finally outed as the major matter at the heart of the referendum debate. Over the past three weeks the rhetoric around ‘migration’ got even more desperate than it had been last summer when the first groups of people from Calais came knocking at our doorstep – prompting us at deep:black to develop Birds Crossing Borders.

But, then, maybe I wouldn’t draw the referendum as a huge white cliff but as a giant-turned-windmill that cunningly knows how to evade an honest battle – at least one fought with the unconventional arms of dialogue and compassion. In the run up to today’s referendum, the public discourse about ‘migration’ felt increasingly divisive with people on the one side throwing themselves behind the argument of compassion and solidarity – ‘Call me by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond‘ received huge accolades and interest from the public – and on the other side throwing arguments steeped in frustration and anger at those people across the divide. At deep:black we respect anger: we know it as a feeling that indicates something much more complex at a much deeper level – often shame, always fear. And we, hope no matter how the people decide today that we can take this on board as a hugely important issue to look into: that there are deep levels of fears, anxieties and possibly shame in midst of our communities that get in the way of consensus about who we are as a society and as a nation. That we need to address with the same compassion that we would like to generate in our projects where we share perspectives of migration and experiences of refugees.

call me by my name 4 xsThe exhibition has closed last night, on the eve of the referendum; I went in this morning to take down our Birdcards and was greeted by huge puddles stretching across the first two rooms from last night’s torrential rain. Incidentally, because I had been cycling around in the rain I ended up entering the gallery rather appropriately in ‘the Jungle look’: waterproof trousers over waterproof wellies…
By now – 6 hours later – the gallery will be pretty empty again returned into a concrete-walled car-park-like space with no shadow left from 3 weeks of conversations about migration: it’s down to us to take the conversations outside and continue the dialogue. We will do so in September: from 01-09 September we will showcase the Birds Crossing Borders collection at Rich Mix. Watch this space for details and get in touch if you would like to find out more!

Petra Hilgers, Co-Director deep:black


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Exhibition / News

Trupti PicWe are very pleased that Birds Crossing Borders has been recommended in London Calling’ s review of “Call my by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond” on 08 June.

Tom Faber beautifully captures the essence of our project which simply seeks “to increase sympathy and understanding… it’s not providing solutions. It encourages us to think carefully and ask questions”.

Read the full review here. And if you haven’d already done so you can still visit the exhibition until 22 June daily from 12-8pm. All the details are here.


Calais Stories

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Exhibition / News

Call me by my name 3

Call me by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond has opened on 02 June and is a powerful tapestry of art work by those that have experienced migration directly as refugees and their families – as well as those with a more indirect experiences of migration through volunteering or their work or simply by being touched by stories of others in their community.

A small section of our ‘bird cards’ have made it into the exhibition right next to a little ‘settlement’ of tents from the Jungle – which is exactly where they were meant to go!

On Saturday we ran a drop-in arts workshop where we shared some of our Calais stories over colouring-in-sheets and the creation of a collaborative art piece that we will show in an exhibition at Rich Mix in September.IMG_5551_ed sm

Over 25 exhibition visitors dropped in for a rich afternoon of ‘making’: ‘making is our defence against the dark‘ poet Ruth Padel read in the Poetry of Migration event on 06 June. Poet Jackie Kay affirmed that in her own words, ‘hope is survival – hope is artistic – hope is creative‘…

Our workshop participants felt a sense of that, too, when they fed back what they got from taking part in our creative session:

I’m part of everybody’ 04 June p2
‘Good to send a message of welcome to refugees’
‘A way to express difficult emotions’
‘Calming yet challenging at the same time’
‘Opportunity to meet others, contribute and be active’
‘Feel like I can give something back, even if just a little bit…’


Call me by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond is open until 22 June daily from 12-8pm.

Call me by my name…

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Blessing of cards 1 xsWe are excited to be part of the latest exhibition of Migration Museum Project ‘Call me by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond’.

From 02-22 June some of the amazing bird cards that you wrote and designed will showcase alongside other artist responses to the situation in the Jungle.

If you want to contribute to the creative dialogue why not join us for our drop-in art workshop on Saturday 04 June from 2-4pm in the exhibition space?

The exhibition is free of charge and open daily from 12-8pm at Londonewcastle Project Space28 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London,  E2 7DP

More information about how to get there can be found here.

For this exhibition we are supported by Tower Hamlets Council and Education Services 2010.