Refuge and Renewal: Migration and British Art
By Peter Wakelin
Innumerable artists have found refuge in Britain during the past hundred and fifty years, escaping dispossession, torture, intellectual oppression or war. Their arrival frequently enriched art in Britain.
Following the isolation of most émigrés in the First World War, artists who escaped Nazism in the 1930s became part of art communities in places as far apart as Hampstead, Glasgow, Merthyr Tydfil, the Swansea valley and St Ives. Gabo and Mondrian influenced Nicholson, Hepworth and Lanyon, while younger artists were inspired by the radical ideas of Kurt Schwitters and John Heartfield and by the Expressionists Bloch, Herman, Kokoschka and Koppel. Lotte Reiniger brought innovations in animation and Bill Brandt and Felix H.Man showed the potential of documentary photography. Refugees have come since from China, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
The experiences of artist refugees have followed many patterns. Some stayed a short time and moved on, some made their lives in Britain, teaching, exhibiting and inspiring. In the 1940s, refugees contributed to the war effort and the defeat of fascism. The stories of later refugees’ contributions to British art are still unfolding.
This new publication accompanies a major exhibition of the same name, held at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, between 14 December and 1 March 2020 (+ embed following link
Publication: November 2019