Portrait [Traces: Stories of Migration]
2022 - 2023
Materials: Canvas, silk organza, hand and machine embroidery, beadwork
Dimensions: 90 x 90 x 4 cm
Catalogued: Lucy Orta. Traces: Stories of Migration, Ed. University of the Arts London, May 2023 - ISBN 978-1-906908-84-3
Exhibition history: 2023 Nunnery Gallery, London, UK; London College of Fashion, East Bank, London, UK
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
Lucy Orta's Portrait Gallery consists of fifty portraits of local residents from east London, which were created through community engagement activities over a two-year period, as part of her project Traces: Stories of Migration. Through the use of textiles as a medium for artistic expression, the programme of activities included storytelling, mapping, and stitching to explore migration, identity, and community. The goal was to foster a sense of belonging and ownership among participants, promote social cohesion, and celebrate cultural diversity.
Lucy Orta challenges the conventional notion of portraiture by using silk organza appliqué, hand and machine embroidery, and beadwork to reflect the unique characteristics of each person involved in the workshops. The aim of this project was to honour the first, second, and third generation migrant histories and heritage of the participants. The Portrait Gallery represents a collective effort of the community to share and celebrate the memories accumulated as people journey from one place to another, highlighting the individuality of each participant's journey and experiences.
Traces: Stories of Migration is a testament to the potential of community engagement as a tool for social change, promoting empathy and fostering connections between people from different backgrounds. It also represents a myriad of trajectories, reflecting the lived experiences of each person involved in the project, creating a powerful narrative that connects the community and celebrates the diverse experiences that make up the fabric of modern society.
The community engagement was delivered in partnershop with Making for Change as part of UAL's The Portal Centre for Social Impact. The Portrait Gallery, was presented for the first time at the Nunnery Gallery in London for the exhibition Lucy Orta. Traces: Stories of Migration.