Art exhibition at Great Yarmouth library joins in immigration debate

Juliet Hayward looking at her work called Lost at Sea with Samson Rowlie.Exhibition of work at Great

Juliet Hayward looking at her work called Lost at Sea with Samson Rowlie.Exhibition of work at Great Yarmouth Library called This Plot, This England. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

It is one of the hottest election topics and now the art-world is joining the debate about immigration with an exhibition in Great Yarmouth.

Juliet Hayward with two pieces by Chris Jackson. Exhibition of work at Great Yarmouth Library called

Juliet Hayward with two pieces by Chris Jackson. Exhibition of work at Great Yarmouth Library called This Plot, This England. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Organised to chime with St George's Day in a town recognised as a UKIP target This Plot, This England seeks to explore ideas about identity using local stories and experiences.

It sees St George depicted as the iconic Anglia Knight logo rendered in lolly sticks and pasta, as well as in a nest of Russian dolls.

Dozens of nationalities, all resident in the town where many languages are heard and shops and cafes have sprung up providing a taste of home, are represented.

Seven artists have contributed pieces, some with a Norfolk theme.


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Christina Violet Sabberton of Acle discovered while researching ahead of the exhibition that a relative had been sent to prison in Millbank, London (where the Tate now stands), for stealing a cloak, and subsequently deported to Australia as a prisoner of Millbank (Pom).

She used the information to create a map, now hanging in the gallery, showing her global journey - and reunion in England with her mother and sisters.

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Artist and exhibition organiser Juliet Haywood said it all started with a tweet last year from journalist Owen Jones which read: 'Happy St George's Day. A perfect way to celebrate multi-cultural Britain with a Turkish immigrant.'

She added: 'I thought we would be coming up to an election and you see the St George's flag all the time and it would be nice to explore it.'

The artists, four of whom graduated with an MA in Fine Art from the Norwich School of Art and Design, are drawn from Norfolk as well as Felixstowe and Oxford.

Her piece is inspired by the tale of Samson Rowlie, a Yarmouth sailor who in the 1600s was captured off Algeria and castrated. However, he went on to achieve success and status as Hasan Aga and despite a plea from Elizabeth 1 refused to send back any of the British prisoners because they were having too much of a good time over there.

Helen Otter of Brundall, has produced a piece of video animation called The Colours' Parade which sees more than 30 flags merge and change.

She used the 2011 census to find out the nationalities represented in Yarmouth, settling on 30.

And Chris Jackson has come up with a piece which has a strong connection with the town and features the Winter Gardens surrounded by images of local industries and farming. The piece relates to the image of the Anglia Knight and also St George's empty cave, and carries the slogan 'unity is strength.'

Sara Ross, meanwhile, has laid out the welcome mat - made of real grass - her patch of this green and pleasant land.

The exhibition is supported by lectures and runs until May 2 at Great Yarmouth Community Library, until recently the home of GYROS, Great Yarmouth Refugee Outreach and Support.

Ms Haywood, a teacher at Horatio House in Southtown Road said she hoped it was an opportunity to see things slightly differently or to see something else and think about the whole issue.

She hopes to be in the library on most days after 3pm to answer any questions.

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