A British war artist, Arabella Dorman, has created a chandelier shaped installation in the nave of St James’s church in Piccadilly, London, with the help of nearly 700 items salvaged from the beaches and the olive groves belonging to the refugees in the Greek island of Lesbos to highlight the extent of the refugee crisis in the region, especially post Brexit.
"I’ve tried to convey the chaos, the explosion of people’s lives. It’s about the fragility and vulnerability of human beings,” she told the Guardian. "There is a deepening and worsening crisis but it no longer occupies news headlines. People find it easy to turn away and forget – partly because they feel so helpless."
Dorman shipped 1,400 items of clothing in 27 boxes from Lesbos and selected the most compelling pieces for her installation, "Suspended."
"Christmas can very easily be bankrupt of meaning," Rev Lucy Winkett, the rector of St James’s said. "So as a church we’re saying there’s no better time to talk about this big issue.
Dorman’s conflict art is drawn from the first-hand experience of working with British forces in Southern Iraq (2006), Afghanistan (2009 – 2014) and more recently, with refugees in Lesbos, Calais & Dunkirk (2015 - 2016), per her website.
"In essence, my work is as much about the hope that can rise from the embers, as it is about the poignancy and pathos of war. It is about sacrifice and remembrance, exile and despair, but it is also about tenacity and faith. My art asks us to consider the courage of soldiers and civilians alike, the fearlessness of young Afghan women determined to seek an education, the plight of the thousands of unaccompanied refugee children today, and the hope that sustains the displaced," Dorman wrote on her website.
In 2015, the church hosted an art installation by Dorman, Flight, which featured a refugee boat salvaged from Greece, the first in the series of her works highlighting the issue of forced displacement across the world.