Alketa Xhafa Mripa and her Refugees Welcome installation

Alketa Xhafa Mripa and her Refugees Welcome installation

The Solidarity With Refugees March takes place this Saturday 17 September 2016 in Central London, starting at 12.30pm. The Refugees Welcome truck-installation will be parked at the meeting point, on Park Lane and Curzon Gate, in between the South-bound and North-bound junctions. The march goes on to Parliament Square

This year’s Solidarity With Refugees March in London features an unusual artistic intervention: a truck containing an English living room. The idea is that anyone can go inside, sit down, have a cup of tea, and talk about the refugee situation with the artist, Alketa Xharfa-Mripa , who was born in Kosovo.

“I wanted to create a welcoming room where it felt how I felt when I came to London in 1997,” Alketa tells, “I didn’t come as a refugee, I came as a student, but then I turned into a refugee because of the war. And I used to work with the Red Cross at that time in Manchester and Liverpool, so I could see the solidarity, and that opening of the heart and homes of British people, and I was amazed by the welcome that they showed. So for me, Britain symbolises the hope and the welcome. And then obviously, in the last three or four years the situation –the response towards the refugees – has changed, both politically and emotionally”.

The core of her installation, entitled Refugees Welcome (above), is described by Alketa as being: “Very English, 1970s design, with two old chairs and a table and a carpet, and lamps, a very conservative setting.” It was first shown, briefly and without the truck, at the British Museum, in June. The timing was auspicious, as she explains.

“The beauty of it was, the day that I exhibited it was the day the Brexit vote came. At the British Museum on the night of the opening, I wanted to serve tea in teacups, welcoming the refugees, but on the day, one of the teacups broke, and I was really angry because I bought them in a charity shop so I couldn’t find exactly the same teacup. And then I left it because when I heard about the Brexit vote, I thought, this is a sign. Britain was alone, broken, and it was tea for one!”

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