Worcester Illustrators' Migration Exhibition on World Tour


The Migrations exhibition is the brainchild of Illustration lecturers from the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society (ICPBS) at the University of Worcester and, following its huge success at one of the world's most prestigious children's arthouses, is now touring the globe.

It features more than 300 postcards each bearing an illustration of a bird, representing the theme of migration. Illustrators from around the world have contributed, including well-known picture book illustrators such as Isol from Argentina, Roger Mello from Brazil, Shaun Tan, Christopher Corr and Jane Ray. Their work hangs alongside postcards by recent University of Worcester Illustration graduates and professional Illustrators at various stages in their careers.

Tobias Hickey, Course Leader for Illustration at the University of Worcester, said: "We hung the exhibition at the International House of Art for Children in Bratislava and were delighted that it attracted more than 9,000 visitors.

"Since then we've been getting requests from all around the world to host the exhibition. We've taken it to South Africa and South Korea so far and have requests from Brazil, Germany, Russia, New Zealand, Japan, China and Estonia."

The flock of bird postcards is suspended by thin threads of wire gently sway from side to side as the viewer moves amongst them. Each postcard has a written message in response to the theme of "Migration". Some are simple words of encouragement, some poems and some very personally accounts of migration and the importance of art in dealing with displacement.

Tobias said: "The vast majority came from Europe but many have come much further: Iran, Japan, Chile " postcards have travelled thousands of miles to be part of this. The stamp, the journey of the mail and all it entails reflect the fragility and the precarious nature of migration."

A digital map is included next to the artwork, on an iPad, allowing a visual guide to the origins of each postcard.

The postcards are flanked by the artwork of University of Worcester illustrators and lecturers Tobias Hickey, Stephen Fowler, Andy Robert Davies, Piet Grobler and Becky Palmer. The subjects within each of these larger works aim to build upon the themes shown in the postcards, framing the main exhibit and emphasizing the messages of movement, navigation, fragility, oppression and escape.

Australian artist, writer and film-maker, Shaun Tan, wrote the Forward to the exhibition. In it he said: "Perhaps this is where a humble exhibition such as this, contributing to millions of other small and large humanitarian actions happening simultaneously around the world, can actually make a difference. By creating, looking, and asking questions, confronting despair, we invest back into an economy far greater than any stock exchange, more ennobling than any political system, and far less compromised. We sustain the will to imagine a better world, for adults and especially children, for whom the positive inspiration of art and story can never be overestimated."

There are now plans to turn a selection of the postcards into a book to be published in spring 2019.