Exploring migration as a theme: building on the coat of arms of Glasgow as a starting point

Exploring migration as a theme

After much thought and recent participation at a multi-cultural art event near my home
(Share my Table) organised by the Tramway and the Scottish Refugee Council, I wanted to consider how I could visually represent migration in my work.
At Share my Table, we explored the issue of the media’s response to the recent influx of migrants fleeing poverty and war in Africa and the Middle East.

It was clear from these discussions that many new migrants felt isolated and fearful, often located in homes far from the centre of town with significant challenges when travelling to essential services and for social interaction with others. Through interpreters I learned about the differences between us, and perhaps much more importantly, the similarities between us. Media headlines were often perceived to show the negative aspects of migration such as cost to the nation, threats of subversive activity, failure to integrate properly into society.

My earlier research had explored religious themes through museum visits and a personal visit to the Sikh Gurdwara located in my area. With an idea how I wanted to proceed, I visited my local museum to sketch birds and fish at first hand with a view to incorporating them into my work.

Developing a Design

It was very important to find a design which worked visually and which incorporated enough detail to carry the theme.
Key ideas:

• Land, sea, and sky: earth, planets, moon, sun and stars

• Natural creatures: birds, fish and plants

• Concepts: fear, poverty, desperation, survival, love of family, peace, right to freedom of religion.

I visualised a series of works which would build on the Glasgow Coat of Arms, featuring migrating birds which had travelled across the sea to reach land. The birds would be welcomed by fish native to Scotland, with these fish handing over the ring found by the salmon in the tale featured in the traditional story of the coat of arms.

I explored a number of ways of representing the land: an abstract representation of the hazel tree with snowdrops, and an alternative version featuring thistles and snowdrops on the river bank.

In the sky, I placed the crescent moon and star, symbolic of the Islamic faith. The moon and stars can be seen by refugees wherever they are and symbolise links back to family who are often unable to join them in their new country.

These were incorporated into my first effort at a design which was sketched out in pencil in the two different formats ( below).

more work was carried out using Procreate to explore potential colour schemes for the project.













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