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


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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.

More Migrations…

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The Jungle

Back in London the birds are fully back in our parks and gardens while everything is very much up in the air for people in the Jungle in Calais especially for unaccompanied minors as a Guardian report from Monday shows.

But things look to be also literally up in the air for the Good Chance Theatre: set up last year as a temporary Theatre of Hope it hosted a community of powerful arts projects (including our own ‘Birds Crossing Borders’) and has now been temporarily dismantled to be – hopefully – set up elsewhere again, temporarily.

Good Chance TheatreIt seems that everything is temporary and migratory here and any attempt to create a bit of stability and continuity seems a drop in the ocean – but then every drop matters to make up that mass!

Our next drop will be a temporary exhibition in June in Tower Hamlets.: it’s now confirmed that the Migration Museum Project will host some of our art work as part of an upcoming exhibition about Calais. Watch this space for details…

in The Jungle: Day 4

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The Jungle

Our final day in The Jungle was meant to be a quiet one…

Initially we were told that on Sundays the Theatre space is usually a bit quiet; then it emerged that for this particular Sunday the Theatre was to host a big media event and we imagined to be of use with some quiet behind-the scenes support. On the even of the event the Good Chance team decided that it would be great to offer a quiet and creative space in the small dome just for The Jungle residents, free from journalists and away from the hustle & bustle of the event. For that they asked us to do the same we’d done on the pervious 3 days: host an arts workshop.

Day4 Jungle 1We were very happy with that choice because after 3 days of trying different things we knew that drawing and colouring were on demand and we could easily integrate our Bird Cards into that. We had already begun to feel quite at home in the little dome so this seemed the easiest and most fulfilling option.

It wasn’t that easy to start with, though, because over night some people had entered the Theatre in a state of anger and damaged quite a bit of the already wonky furniture – two tables and two benches were beyond use and a lot of the solid wooden benches had disappeared. What could have easily felt like a set back was just taken note of by the team and then we set out to create new furniture. Day4 Jungle 5Artist Sue, who was working in the little dome alongside us, spread a clean blue tarp across the floor and used the two very low benches for people to sit on and work from there – making boardgames out of wood. The blue tarp was respected like a carpet and we noticed with astonishment that people took their shoes of – unprompted – before entering that space.

On the other side we cobbled together the two remaining tables under a sheet of brown Kraft paper and created a new bench out of a table that had lost it’s seat by taping a billboard on top of it. We also used one of Sue’s large boxes as a bench and then nicked some of the hired chairs from the large dome – so all in all we had a decent work space and furniture building turned into team building…

Day4 Jungle 2And it was worth all the effort because our little dome was again very popular with people who valued some quiet focused art work and the opportunity to create, reflect and share. It was also a bit surreal to know that on the other side of the dome an important event was going on with the likes of Jude Law, Tom Stoppard, Stephen Daldry, Sonja Friedman Tom Odell and others to express solidarity with the refugees in The Jungle and raise awareness about their situation while we were absorbed in writing, drawing, colouring, bird-cards, Persian poetry, sharing storied about home, love and loss. But mostly it was really powerful to be able to offer what we easily could offer and to know that it made a little difference.Day4 Jungle 3

We are very grateful to Good Chance Theatre for hosting us for these past 5 days – and we feel honoured to having been able to be here on the eve of massive changes: Good Chance Theatre have also received their eviction order and are currently exploring options for where to go from here.

We found the work of Good Chance Theatre incredibly inspirational and much needed in place where people have very little opportunity for normality, for self-expression, for coming together to share without words, for reminiscing and missing and for meeting people from across Europe who are keen to show that despite our Governments there are many people who care about the fate of people in The Jungle.

We are back in London now and look forward to a team meeting on Wednesday where we will explore where net with our impressions and art work from The Jungle – an exhibition is in the pipeline so watch this space!

And also check out the work of Good Chance Theatre here.

in The Jungle: day 3

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The Jungle

Day3 Jungle 4

Today, Calais felt like it was weighed down by a ton of clouds that never lifted despite the fierce wind that’s been blustering around buildings and through any undefended opening. The tarps and tents in The Jungle looked even weaker as they were teased and tensed by the gusts – and it seemed this had caught on and affected the atmosphere in the Theatre which also felt much more unsettled and tensed. We quickly learned the reason why: hundreds of residents of the camp’s southern site have received eviction orders the previous night effective from early next week. Whilst the camp has been an uncomfortable home to the residents at least it’s been a place of stability – we met someone here who’s lived in The Jungle for 15 months. Where next from here is very unclear because the alternative options – a new container camp near the camp and so-called ‘welcome centres’ across France won’t have anywhere near enough places for the hundreds to thousands of people affected…

In the midst of that, a very dynamic theatre workshop going on in the main dome of Good Chance Theatre and a number of visitor groups stopping at the theatre to learn about its important work we tried to offer a creative space. Our plan – to run a photography workshop for which we had brought a box of our old ‘Fox & Tiger’ cameras – had to be abandoned quite quickly: lack of language already made explaining our idea (responding to our ‘bird cards’ through photography) very challenging and paired with high levels of nervousness meant that people seemed to find it very to focus on our instructions and bring up the patience for listening to the lengthier (because bi-lingual) explanations.

Instead people wanted to do more drawing – so we did the only sensible thing and surrendered to the power of colouring-in. Day3 Jungle 1We brought our set of bird-images out again plus some extra colouring-in real jungles for those that had already done all the birds we had on offer. We achieved what had seemed nearly impossible earlier in the day: moments of total relaxed quietness with several men colouring in flowers! Petra also caught a beautiful moment of spontaneous collaboration when one man started to join Trupti colouring in her jungle-sheet…

We also managed to host a mini sharing of the ‘Birds Crossing Borders’ messages in the afternoon which was however disrupted by an incident very near the Theatre – a non-fatal shooting among two camp residents, as we learned later; in the moment we simply had to deal with of our audience running out of the dome and mostly surprised-looking volunteers staying behind. Shortly after we were asked to leave the site and gather at the Theatre team’s safety point in a nearby camping site where we were given more details of what had happened and discussed the risks and measures in place for us volunteers. We had experienced the Good Chance Theatre staff as very responsive and responsible throughout our time here and this incident only confirmed this – and when we returned to the site it also became evident how much this is felt by the residents who had gathered in larger numbers and looked happy to see us returning. As far as we know the Theatre (and a number of other communal spaces in The Jungle) is on the very site that is to be cleared in an effort to reduce the sprawl of the camp – and we left with a real sense of appreciation for the team’s commitment to providing as much normality and safety as can be done under so much uncertainty and adversity. We’ll be back tomorrow for a few more hours of – well, likely to be colouring in – before heading back to London in the evening…

Day3 Jungle 2