Facebook_Cover_British.jpg
Becoming British ran 17 - 25 June at Bloc Projects Sheffield as an exhibition, gathering and space for work centering immigrant narratives and experiences.

Curated by Lora Krasteva in collaboration with Aisha Seriki, Chris Cambell and Nicole Raymond the exhibition featured portraiture, erasure poetry, soundscapes and a live event. 

The exhibition will continue to develop alongside a synonymous production which is supported by Sheffield Theatres. It is available to book for a range of spaces - email producer@lorakrasteva.com for more. 

Becoming British is funded by the Necessity Fund, developed with initial support from Sheffield Theatres and supported by SBC, Theatre Deli and the South Yorkshire Combined Mayoral Authority. Produced by Claire Gilbert. 

IMG_2964.jpg

EVIDENCE #

2016 to 2021

Lora Krasteva

 

EVIDENCE # is part of Lora Krasteva’s collection of paperwork to prove her status, residence, identity, income, and English language skills to satisfy the Home Office’s requirements when applying for British Citizenship.

By framing each document as a delicate piece of art she conveys their importance, despite their apparent ephemeral nature. By exposing personal information for everyone to see, Lora seeks to replicate the feeling of vulnerability and awkwardness this gathering of evidence produces. 

A bigger collection of EVIDENCE # was also exhibited at Weston Park Museum. 

 

This piece and Lora’s process of naturalisation as a British citizen is what gave birth to the idea of the Becoming British project. 

Displacement 

Nicole Raymond

 

Created by Nicole Raymond and inspired by interviews conducted by Lora Krasteva & wider research it was a soundscape that changed dependent on where you were in the space. The piece was created to ask the questions: how comfortable do you feel in Britain? How often do you listen to what Priti Patel has to say? In order to fully experience and feel what it's like for migrants in the UK today. 

IMG_3079.jpg

The Becoming British mural and library

Lora Krasteva 

 

The mural sought to raise awareness about some of the costs immigrants incur to be able to live in the UK. Quotes from Aisha’s portrait subjects also feature, adding a human perspective to the cold hard Home Office numbers.   

 

To prepare for this project and the upcoming research and development of the Becoming British play, Lora has been reading and engaging with existing critical discourse about Britishness, amongst other materials. We shared a growing library, for a moment of reflection or for your the audiences further inquiry into what it means to be British today. 

 

Amongst the materials you could find the community-led newspaper What does it mean to be British? created in 2018-19 by Concord Youth Centre Birmingham, Focus Charity Leicester & Global Sistaz United Nottingham UK.

IMG_2991.jpg
IMG_3021.jpg

No Erasure 

Chris Cambell

 

Being an immigrant has humbled me. I'm opinionated, unafraid to go against the grain. Yet I've found myself isolated in an alien culture. Existing as wrong by default. 

 

I live in constant fear of government rules and regulations -- have I accidentally done something that will get me kicked out of the country? It sounds silly, but it's my reality.

 

Which brings me to the Life In The UK Test. A divining rod for who can continue existing here. The rest? Not British enough. Not good enough. Undesirables. 

 

Yet politicians party their way through a pandemic, watching us huddled at home as we hope we make rent and see our loved ones again. Why should Britishness be measured by conforming to the expectations of these same rich, white men? Why should it be measured at all? And, if the tables were turned, how many Brits would be British enough for this test?

IMG_2970.jpg
IMG_2998.jpg

A light at the end of the tunnel

Aisha Seriki

 

My photo project “ A light at the end of the tunnel” explores how migration affects conventional and societal expectations of love, specifically analyzing how family ties have been restricted by arbitrary borders. This series is inspired by my own experience of separation from my dad, who has been barred from this country for over 15 years due to constant rejections from the home office. The project is an ode to a family portrait taken in 2011. The family portrait was a mishmash of a photo that dad took in India and a portrait that the rest of my family had taken in England. In all, “ A light at the end of the tunnel” aims to shed light on the emotional costs of immigrating which are often neglected in discussions of migration. 

 

I am extremely grateful to all the families who participated in this project. I thank you for your enthusiasm, trust and vulnerability. I would like to give thanks to Maureen, my set designer who went over and beyond during the course of this project. Finally, I would like to give thanks to Nana, Aminat, Feranmi, Tito, Samatar, Ret’sepile, Toyah and my mentor Clare for the feedback and immense support. 

IMG_2973.jpg

The Sun

Lora Krasteva 

 

The newspaper is one of many British rags, notoriously known for its trashy views and anti-immigrant sentiment. So Becoming British artist Lora Krasteva and producer Claire Gilbert decided to conduct an experiment and provide a space for The Sun’s readers to contribute to the exhibition. On Thursday 2nd June 2022, at a peak moment of national identity building, they placed an ad providing a phone number for people to call and express their views on what it means to be British.

 

No one called. 

 

The phone number is still operational and we invite you to leave us a message. (07856 210 122)

We would like to say thank you to…

 

Migration Matters Festival, David & Sunshine at Bloc Projects, Andy at Yellow Arches, June Bellebono, Tony Ola, Christina Vaughan, Daisy Grant, Tommi & all at Sheffield Theatre, Aminat Seriki, Maryam Seriki, Adewale Seriki, Morufat Seriki, Sola Njoku, Abiodun Shonaiya, Maureen Kargbo, Clare Shilland, Feranmi Eso, Tito Mogaji Williams, Samatar Gurey, Nana Ama, Ret’sepile Makamane, Stu Hansom 

AISHA.jpg
NikNak Digital-04.jpg

Aisha Seriki is a Nigerian, London-based creative specialising in portrait/fashion photography. At the age of 8, her family emigrated from South East Asia to the UK and she has been residing in South London ever since. Aisha’s interest in photography stems from her father's obsession with documentation; specifically, that of all her significant childhood events. Aisha’s work is inspired by both imagination and experience. Centered around global social issues, her photography addresses blackness, gender, migration, class and the myriad points of intersection within all four.

CHRIS .jpg

Chris Cambell (He/They) is a mixed-race Native American with ADHD living as an immigrant in the UK. He is an award winning poet, storyteller, and graphic designer. He is the Co-Founder of Fight Evil With Poetry Press and loves speaking about culture, creativity, and the joy of failure. He is a repeat slam champion, having won slams on 3 different continents. He teaches poetry online, running weekly workshops, and wants everyone to feel empowered to tell their stories in meaningful ways.

NikNak is an award-winning artist from London and based in Leeds, UK. As a dynamic music creative with experimental albums and tracks/remixes on Come Play With Me, Kynant Records, OTONO, Reel Long Overdub under her belt, NikNak regularly redefines and expands upon her role as a ground-breaking multidisciplinary artist.

 

NikNak became the first Black Turntablist in history to win the illustrious Oram Award in 2020, has been featured in publications such as Mixmag, Resident Advisor, Yorkshire Evening Post, Electronic Sound Mag, and DJ Mag.Listed as one of DJ-Mag’s “Ones To Watch in 2022”, NikNak continues to build upon her vast DJ-ing experience having blown audiences away with her eclectic DJ sets at festivals like Wilderness, We Out Here, Leeds International Festival, Bestival and more… 

 

NikNak is also a member of TC And The Groove Family, a bold UK-based 10-piece collective that explores grooves and genres from around the world in their music together.

Bloc Projects


Established in 2002, Bloc Projects is a contemporary arts organisation in the centre of Sheffield.

They focus on the support and development of contemporary artists at pivotal points of their careers, providing a safe and stimulating environment that is free for the public to explore ideas and creative practices.  

They work closely with other local art organisations, universities and charities to ensure the activities welcome a diverse and intergenerational demographic, whilst the expansive programme provides opportunities for cross-disciplinary and participatory learning, meaningful arts engagement, and skill development for creative practitioners as well as wider publics.

 

https://www.blocprojects.co.uk/