Who We Are

Nobody belongs, de facto, to just one place, one culture. Our existence is defined by the involuntary interactions with the world in a continuous change, but we like to believe that we do belong. To a place, a space which can be defined and referred to. And when one belongs ‘somewhere’, everything seems easier to quantify, categorise. And, then, it becomes familiar. The common familiarity which emerges through similitude in language, taste, points of view, landscape brings people closer and it helps to build that sense of togetherness.

Most tragedies have been born out of rejection, out of a deep sense of ‘non-belonging’ and people felt mostly bereaved when they realised their uprooting. The recent developments in Europe, with Brexit, in North America, with Trump’s Wall, and across the world in Myanmar, Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Ukraine, Syria, Peru show that we are ‘on the move’ at a global scale. Politics and economics drive the migration at unprecedented levels and can cement a deep sense of social instability.

Millions of people move from one place to another and remain trapped in the complex process of social migration. In 2017, nearly a quarter of a million people came to Britain. And each person brought in a new narrative with elements of uniqueness and subjectivity. We could say that, in 2017, hundreds of thousands of stories came to Britain too. Untold life experiences, unheard voices; hundreds of years of education, culture, music and skills.

And this is the main focus of ‘Who We Are’ a project initiated by the artist Jen Whiskerd from University of Gloucestershire (UoG) supported by many art students, University of Winchester, illustrators, bookmakers, printers, writers, researchers, photographers. Using eight stories about migration (told by Adelaide Morris, Shelley Campbell, Fumio Obata, Anita Roy, Dolores Phelps, Maria Stadnicka, Ro Saul, John Stadnicki), the UoG art students (undergraduate and postgraduate courses) have produced a brilliant book which will be launched this weekend at Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Photograph: ©Emma Evans, 2018

The book, printed by Emma Evans UoG, Pittville Press, is a collection of poetry, photography, drawings, journal notes, animation.

The event is free and will take place at the Walled Garden Room, Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire /

Saturday 20th Jan. 2018, at 2pm.

Come along to share your story and enjoy the launch or just to listen and to be inspired!

It has been my privilege to be part of this.

Maria Stadnicka, 2018

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Britannia Libre

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki 2018

 

Teach me how to read Rublev’s majestic blue,

everything written on my skin

over so many years,

 

the omnipresence of all the irrelevant victories

you had and

you washed with blood-red water,

 

look back at the world with

the same tenderness I

look at an infant,

 

give way to a requiem for the pilgrim

fallen indoors like a moth negotiating

its destiny

with each letter.

 

Unknown thy name.

 

For the first time, I

walk. Blind, absent.

I become tomorrow.

 

©Maria Stadnicka 2018

 

 

Takeaway

‘Memento Vivere’ ©MStadnicka MMXVIII Drawing, ink and pencil on paper

– to Aidan Semmens –

 

Hello. I am a feature

on a CCTV camera, with

private resonance. At

the top floor, I

can barely sleep for the sound of gunfire.

I hear the poetry when I order a pizza.

 

Still there, are you?

…‘yeah, vegan cheese that’s correct, please’…

the signal is fading.

 

Hello. Bullet, welcome

back to my flesh.

We are both refugees, I gather;

my dear child what remains of a street, a sequence

when the memory is no longer needed?

 

Yeah, call me Bob for short

or just B. Capital B.

Call me death or whatever you want

and put an end to

this age of anxiety.

 

 

©Maria Stadnicka 2018

 

Headline

Photograph: @John Stadnicki, 2018

I am sick of plastic too, Anita Roy.

Sick of my to-do list,

of happy days,

of waiting for a heart transplant,

of being kept here

(how much longer)

to fix the world’s pipeline.

 

Sick of a supper of stones,

of meta,

of what follows at six o’clock BBC News,

of brown.

 

Sick of pretty and sizes,

of vitamins,

of building consensus with a teddy bear;

of lottery tickets,

of where,

of looking over the fence.

 

Of paragraphs.

 

But mostly, I am sick to admit

I am a genius.

 

 

 

Gloria Mundi

II – MMXVIII

I – MMXVIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

III – MMXVIII

IV – MMXVIII

V – MMXVIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI – MMXVIII

VII – MMXVII

IX – MMXVIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

X – MMXVIII

 

XI – MMXVIII

XII – MMXVIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography: ©John Stadnicki 2018

 

‘Acts of Survival’ – International Times

Illustration ©Claire Palmer 2018, ‘International Times’

– for Peter J. King –

Before the execution date,
each night,
lands I have never seen come to visit
this self-contained universe.
The only place for waiting, for submitting,
the place where god decided
it was the moment to shoot itself.
This captivity has become an act of survival,
for an industrious nation of slaves.
Here, the immediate!
The fear behind the hate sounds louder and louder
in each city where cathedrals
are now for sale
on detergent coupons.

A man is lost at sea, I hear,
total strangers marching East
minutes before the water-ropes bring the closure.

Here and now, my enemy,
the blood inside all my cavities has become
the last supper
for I,
chiselled, strapped, nailed to my crimes,
had confessed: ECCE HOMO!

My nation, my never-never land!

If we have been at war for thousands of years,
still,
barehanded,
catching bullets today,
in these meat-eating times,
it is the pain which, finally, will set us free,
not words.
The silent joy of those who know
how very few will make it through the
death sentence.

The poem was published today in International Times and can be accessed here.