Funded by Arts Council England, My Sister’s Scarf was a collaboration between us and Company Chameleon Dance in Manchester to produce a piece of digital art in celebration of Buxton Museum’s 125th year.
Around 350,000 years ago the Hopton hand axe, which is now in Buxton Museum’s collection, was lost by its owner - a migrant, probably following herds of deer North having crossed the land bridge that once connected the UK to the rest of Europe. The owner of the axe would have chosen it as an essential object and its loss would have had serious consequences.
We worked with chorographer Kevin Turner and apprentice dancer Maddie Shinwell from Company Chameleon in Manchester, to produce a dance piece inspired by the real stories of recent migrants to the UK.
Our artwork drew parallels between the story of the people who first migrated to Britain, such as the owner of the axe, and migrants who have come here recently in order to point out that migration is not something that has happened to the UK in the last 50 years. It is something that has been essential to its growth for millennia.
To enable us to hear first hand accounts of the journeys that migrants make and the choices they have to make we ran a series of engagement workshops at Derby Refugee and Asylum Centre. For all of these people, there have been difficult choices along the way and the question of what items to bring with them is often irrelevant. In the face of danger, there is often no time to think about objects, only your children. Items that people do manage to grab and bring along are often stolen from them en route so that they arrive with no documents, no passport, nothing. The lucky ones arrive with their family still alive and still together.
The dance performance was filmed at Ilam Hall, close to where the Hopton hand axe was found and the film now appears on Buxton Museum’s webapp, ‘The Wonders of the Peak’ as well as being available online.