Visualising Forced Migration


A research project and art exhibition

Directed by Dr Alice König, the ‘Visualising Forced Migration’ project asks a question of great contemporary importance: how can we understand what it is like to be displaced from one’s home by conflict? Through a range of historic and 21st-century stories, we amplify the voices of people who have experienced forced migration from antiquity to the present day. Our aim is to generate inclusive, reflective conversations about how we grasp and represent the different forms of rupture, journeying and home-making which forced migrants have to deal with on a daily basis, all around the world. 

With support from the Imperial War Museum’s 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, OnFife’s Kirkcaldy Galleries, and the University of St Andrews, we are hosting a series of art exhibitions, school workshops and public outreach events throughout 2023. The centerpiece of our project is a new work of art by Diana Forster entitled ‘Somewhere to Stay’. It traces the long journey that Forster’s mother took when she was forcibly displaced from her childhood home in eastern Poland (now Ukraine) and transported to a Soviet labour camp in Arkhangelsk during the Second World War. Adopting traditional Polish folkcraft techniques, Forster’s artwork depicts the comfort and security of life before deportation; the deportees’ arduous journey on sledged, cattle trucks and trains; and the accommodation they lived in, from wooden barracks in Siberian gulags to an ordinary house in Uzbekistan, army tents in Iran, thatched rondavels in Africa, and Nissen huts in resettlement camps in Scotland. This story has much to contribute to our understanding of the impacts of forced migration past and present, and it is part of wider research being carried out by the Visualising War and Peace project, looking at how we understand and narrate war’s aftermath.

To find out more, please visit the project website.  

‘Somewhere to Stay’ is an IWM 14-18 Now Legacy Fund Commission in partnership with the University of St Andrews.

Dr Alice König
University of St Andrews

Poster entitled "somewhere to stay", advertising the new art installation by Diana Forster.

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