New exhibition 'The Sea is the Limit'  Officially Opened by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu at York Art Gallery

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4 May 2018

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, officially opened a major new exhibition at York Art Gallery last night (Thursday May 3 2018). The Sea is The Limit explores the current and ongoing issues of migration, dispossession and national borders and features works from contemporary artists from all over the world.

Their work questions the meaning of nationalism, free movement, inclusion and exclusion, drawing on both the historical and contemporary narratives which shape identity and opinion.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said,

“For those of us living in the British Isles the sea has been one way of making ourselves feel secure and keeping others at bay. In the book of Revelation St John the Divine sees a vision of a new earth where there is no sea, the boundary between people of different nations, tribes and languages has disappeared. This is a thought provoking exhibition – I pray that all who see it will be provoked to think more deeply about the barriers we erect and how we welcome others to share our space.”


The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, with Blankets Project, by Varvara Shavrova

The exhibition is open to the public today May 4 to September 2 2018 and is included in gallery admission.

The exhibition features 11 international artists including Nidhal Chamekh (Tunisia/ France), Taus Makhacheva (Dagestan/Russia), Shahram Entekhabi (Iran/Germany), Brian Maguire (Ireland), Mohammed Sami (Iraq/ UK), Vanessa Vozzo (Italy), Vladimir Miladinović (Serbia), Halil Altindere (Turkey), Varvara Shavrova (USSR/ Ireland/ UK), Nick Ellwood (UK) and Susan Stockwell (UK) use their work to express a desire for freedom and a better life that stands in sharp contrast to the reality the migrants experience on their journeys.

Contemporary artist Varvara Shavrova, who has curated the exhibition, said:

“What makes The Sea is the Limit a unique exhibition is the fact that each participating artist has been addressing the theme of refugees and engaging with migration, immigration, dispossession and rootlessness for some years, and in some cases, for example as in the case of the renown Irish artist Brian Maguire, for some decades. Another strength of the show lies in the fact that most participating artists, including myself, are migrants.

“This sets this project apart from a more sensationalist if not exploitative approach to the currently ‘hot’ topics of ‘migrant crisis’, and instead brings the empathy to the fore of the reflections on this tragic and ongoing situation that is showing no signs of being resolved nor going away any time soon.”

The project has been organised by York Art Gallery and Varvara Shavrova in collaboration with Patrick Heide, and will feature 25 art works in a wide range of media such as audio visual objects, interactive installations, drawings, paintings, sculpture and audio and video works.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of events including artists’ talks, tours of the exhibition and a round table discussion focusing on various aspects of migration, refugees, borders, and the role of contemporary art within these themes.

York Art Gallery and Varvara Shavrova would like to thank Patrick Heide Contemporary Art for their input and collaboration on this project, Kathrin Becker, Head of n.b.k Video-Forum, Berlin, the Kerlin gallery, Dublin, Azra Tuzunoglu, PILOT Gallery, Istanbul and the Eusgter II Belgrade Gallery, Belgrade.

For a full list of events connected to the exhibition please click here.

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