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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Brexiles Exhibition Open Night Event

On 29th September 2023, Sheffield for Europe supported the Open Night Event for Madeleina Kay's 'Brexiles' exhibition at the Circle Gallery in Sheffield. Read the exhibition information booklet here.

Invited speakers included Shaffaq Mohammed, a local counsellor and former Liberal Democrat MEP, and Lora Krasteva, a Sheffield based theatre producer who performed a monologue from her 'Becoming British' project.

The exhibition which 'tells the story of Brits who left the UK because of Brexit' set the backdeop to the open night event which hosted a conversation about nationalism, identity, migration and belonging, exploring the impact of Brexit on migrants to the UK and British expats. The event was well attended by Sheffield for Europe members and supporters.

From my perspective the event was a great success, everything went to plan (despite some organisational hiccups) and the audience were engaged with the artwork, speakers and performances. I thought it was important to bring in speakers who could share their experiences of migrating to the UK, from both EU and non EU countries, to contrast their stories with the 'Brexiles' who had emigrated from the UK. As a politician, originally from Pakistan, Shaffaq brought both the political perspective and his experience as an international migrant - sharing how Brexit had affected his career and identity. On the other hand, Lora, as a theatre producer, brought the cultural perspective of an EU migrant to the conversation, telling the audience about her 'Becoming British' project and through performing her monologue. As someone who has only ever lived in another country for a brief period, I felt it was crucial to include their voices in the discussion about migration and identity. I also read out direct quotes from my 'Brexiles' interviews to give additional context to the exhibition and to emphasise the human aspect of the project, by giving voice to the project participants.

Many audience members came to speak to myself and the other speakers after the performances, Lora chatted with them in Bulgarian and Spanish! Many were immigrants to the UK themselves and some worked at the University of Sheffield, keen to tell me about research in the area of Brexit and its impact on individuals and families. This emphasised the importance in my mind of using creative, story-telling techniques to communicate academic research, in order to humanise statistics and foster greater empathy within society for our diversity of experiences.

I would like to take the exhibition on tour to other locations in the UK, to share this conversation with other communities and hear the stories of other migrants to the UK who have been affected by Brexit. So, I encourage any local pro EU groups who are interested in hosting the exhibition to get in touch:

About Lora Krasteva

Lora Krasteva is an artist, cultural producer and activist with a background in Political Sciences, Latin American and European Studies. Her work is socially and politically engaged, often co-created with others, centring historically marginalised voices. Her ‘Becoming British’ project co-creates performative exhibitions, gatherings and spaces for work that will challenge and interrogate the concept of national identity.

About Shaffaq Mohammed

Shaffaq Mohammed is Councillor for Ecclesall, Leader of the Shefield Lib Dems Group & Group Spokesperson for the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee, and he was also a Member of the European Parliament from 2019 until Brexit happened in 2020. Originally from Pakistan, Shaffaq came to Sheffield in 1977 and made it his home, having attendedPark House school and is a graduate of the University of Sheffield. He has served as a Councillor in the city for many years. He is a family man and a passionate European very much missed in Brussels and Strasbourg.

About Sheffield for Europe

Sheffield for Europe are a non-party political organisation, who exchange information on political, legal and social methods of countering the damage Brexit is doing to the UK, and campaigning to forge closer links with the European Union with the eventual aim of re-joining. They organise regular events, rallies with speakers, street stalls and campaign s to influence policy on Europe

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1 commentaire

17 mai

What a great artist you are, Madeleina. Well done.

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