‘Flight’ is an installation artwork responding to the humanitarian crisis of forced displacement across the world. Conflict artist Arabella Dorman travelled to Lesvos in September 2015 and was deeply moved to see 5,000 refugees arriving daily in weak rubber dinghies. Arabella has salvaged from Lesvos one of these dinghies and a collection of lifejackets worn by refugees on their journey to Greece. The dinghy and lifejackets will be suspended above the nave of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, and more lifejackets will transform the traditional nativity display into a recreation of the scenes Arabella witnessed on the island’s beaches.
This particular boat, made for 15, carried 62 refugees across 10km of rough sea from Assos, Turkey, bound for Lesvos’s northern shoreline. This boat, like so many others, did not make the crossing. The unsuitable engine cut in the middle of the sea, leaving its passengers stranded for hours in the rough Aegean. These 62 people were brought safely to Greek shores only after a rescue mission by the Hellenic coastguard. Many boats fail. Not all are rescued. This year alone, over 3,100 refugees have drowned in their search for safety in Europe.
This important piece brings home to the heart of England's capital the reality of the dangers and volatility of life as a refugee, while three lifejackets suspended alongside the dinghy – two adults’ and a child’s – link this current flight of humans to of the Holy Family from the Middle East into Egypt in search of refuge.
With it, Arabella hopes to spread understanding of the human face of this crisis and to raise funds for The Starfish Foundation and Doctors of the World, both doing fundamental work on the ground in Lesvos and further along the route.
Thanks to generous help, we have raised enough funds to realise this important and impactful project. However, we need your support to ensure that this installation can be sustained, and that future reincarnations be feasible, to extend further the reach of this moving project.
In advance, a huge thank you for your invaluable help, and we look forward to seeing you at St James's, Piccadilly.
The installation will be up and available to view from 21/12/15-7/2/16, subject to church events
There will be an event with well-known figures speaking on the topic of the refugee crisis on Wednesday 13th January and an evening of music to reflect on the issue and to celebrate Candlemas on Tuesday, 2nd February. Tickets for both can be bought via Arabella's website at www.arabelladorman.com.