London seen through the eyes and ears of asylum seekers...
For a number of months I attended the weekly drop in centre for asylum seekers at the Copleston Centre in Peckham. I had hoped to form a regular art / drama workshop there, but the policy of dispersal made it difficult to achieve any continuity, with people arriving in London and being moved on around the country within weeks. Instead we walked and chatted with whoever turned up on the day. It was an act of friendship and solidarity.
The video installation Sanctuary City was a record of one of those walks along the Thames with a group of mostly young men who had never been in central London before. We swapped the camera around between us as we walked. There's camera shake, bits where the lens cap is on, bits where we forgot to switch the camera off as we walked. I think it would be a shame to edit it and tidy it up. Like a proper home movie, it records a day that will never be repeated.
Many of the people in this video have been dispersed around the UK, some possibly deported. Sadly I was unable to trace any of them to invite them to the showing which took place at the Copleston Centre. For me their absence haunts this video and this event.
'The first time in my life I had seen the city and London Bridge. My first impression? A big city and a big river.'
- London through the eyes of an asylum seeker
60 minute 2 screen video installation, Copleston Centre, Peckham, 2002