Johnny Foreigner

“A new place, on new soil, a new culture and a new beginning”

 by Lata Upadhyaya

This series of work is based upon my own experience of migrating from the East to the West. Wherever we travel, we always take a bit of our own culture, individuality and belongings with us. No one wants to completely leave behind their identities, but we have to find a way to renegotiate and make sense of these identities within a new culture and context.

Having lived in Thurrock for nine years, I also wanted to engage with other diverse communities and to open dialogues with other people who have similarly experienced migration to the UK. The work expresses their experiences, culture and changing ways that they perceive their own identities. Each individual journey and experience, represents a story.

I have created each work by utilizing objects, symbols, images, material, memories and treasures. Once the objects and materials had been identified that are significant to each story, I have presented them in a clear suitcase, symbolically ‘packing’ unique identities into a small number of items. These suitcases represent the motion of the journey and the indefinite significance that these journeys continue to have on our lives.

As you look at each suitcase you will need to interpret the contents to identify each persons story – where are they from, when did they arrive, what did they bring with them, what do they do after arrival, how did they feel about their experience.

To help you along, here are a few quotations from the stories

‘When we came, we where only allowed to bring £3, however we found it easy to get work’

 ‘When I arrived it was very cold and didn’t feel like going out’

 ‘I came to get married and found it very easy to settle down’

‘I found it very difficult to make friends’

 ‘I arrived and got a lottery ticket straight away’

 ‘I brought all the wrong clothes, nothing for cold weather’

I hope that you enjoy the stories and if you require more information, I will be available to discuss the work on Saturday 25th April, between 1 and 4pm.

I would like to thank Essex Cultural Diversity Project, Arts Council England and Essex County Council, who have very kindly supported this series of work.

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