A powerful display highlighting the perilous journeys made by refugees, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Featuring the Lampedusa cross, alongside Syrian born artist Issam Kourbaj’s installation Dark Water, Burning World.
The Lampedusa cross was made by the Italian island’s carpenter Francesco Tuccio, from fragments of a boat that was wrecked off the coast of Lampedusa on 11 October 2013. The boat was carrying Eritrean and Somali refugees attempting the crossing from Libya to Europe. Tragically over 300 people drowned. The island’s inhabitants helped to save 155 others, risking their own lives in the process. Tuccio, moved by the refugees’ experiences, but frustrated that he could not make a difference to their situation, made a cross for each of the survivors as a symbol of salvation and hope.
Dark Water, Burning World by artist Issam Kourbaj examines the plight of Syrian refugees and the journeys they undertake. The installation includes twelve little boats made from repurposed bicycle mudguards, jam-packed with upright, extinguished matchsticks, evoking huddled groups of people making the dangerous sea crossing to Europe. These escaped people now carry visible and invisible scars, scorched into them by the separation from their homeland. The once beautiful and abundant sea has become a terrifying expanse on which the lives or deaths of thousands are decided.
Supported by the Dorset Foundation in memory of Harry M Weinrebe.
Suitable for all ages.
Please note the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Part of PHM’s programme exploring migration, co-created by a Community Programme Team made up of people whose lives have been shaped by migration.
In this final episode of the British Museum’s Objects of Crisis video series, the museum’s Director Hartwig Fischer chats with Pat Cumper, playwright and British Museum Trustee about the Lampedusa cross and the act of compassion in the midst of crisis that brought it into being.
June 2021’s Radical Late evening explored the themes of the British Museum’s Spotlight Loan Crossings: community and refuge, on display at PHM from Saturday 29 May to Sunday 5 September 2021. We heard from Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj about his work Dark Water, Burning World, alongside guitarist and songwriter Ewan McLennan performing a collection of his songs including Lampedusa.
Suitable for ages 16+