A highlight of the year, Shire Hall is delighted to host Crossings: community and refuge, a spotlight loan from the British Museum, opening in December 2022. Including the Lampedusa Cross and poignant boat artwork, this exhibition will engage audiences in questions of identity, belonging and sharing our world.

In October 2013, an overcrowded boat carrying migrants from Somalia and Eritrea caught fire, capsized and sank near Lampedusa, off the coast of Tunisia. 311 people, who were fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in Europe, lost their lives. Moved by the plight of survivors, the island’s carpenter, Francesco Tuccio, made crosses from the wreckage. These signified salvation from the sea, hope for the future and as well as the sad fate of many migrants.

Alongside the Lampedusa cross, the exhibition will also feature 12 tiny boats from Syrian-born Issam Kourbaj, from his series Dark Water, Burning World. Made from repurposed bicycle mudguards tightly packed with burnt matches, the artwork represents the fragile vessels used by refugees to make their perilous voyages as a response to the ongoing tragedy in Syria. The boats convey the fear and exhaustion of the crossing, and the trepidatious uncertainty of survival.

Shire Hall will also be working with local organisations and community groups to build a programme of activity around the exhibition.

More to be announced soon…