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Children in Movement: Birmingham’s Heritage of Child Migration 1939 – 2015
5th December 2018

By Ella Marshall, Gap Arts Project

The Children in Movement project took place from Spring 2017. This exhibition is available for touring from January 2019, and we would be thrilled to have it exhibited either locally or nationally during Refugee Week 2019.

About the exhibition

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this exhibition presents the outcomes of Children in Movement, a young people’s heritage project undertaken by The GAP Arts Project between May 2017 and September 2018. The exhibition is a collection of stories and photographic portraits of Birmingham residents who migrated to the city when they were young. Collected through oral history interviews conducted by groups of local young people, the migration stories span almost 80 years, starting with a young Czech girls’s escape from Nazism on the Kindertransport in 1939. Though experiences of migration as a young person was the focus of the project, the interview process inherently had a strong focus on inter-generational exchange, and the exhibition presents experiences of migration at different points in living history. As such this exhibition fits very well into the theme of 2019’s Refugee Week – #Generations. Every story across each subsequent decade echoes its themes of separation and community, identity and difference, loss and hope, as young lives have threaded their way from all corners of the globe to make their home in Birmingham, today’s most ethnically diverse city in the UK.

This project was produced by a group of local young people in response to the misrepresentation and homogenisation of ‘the migrant’ that the 2016 UK Referendum on EU membership escalated. Fearful of what it might mean for our city, The GAP set about the task of finding the real stories behind the negative hype and scaremongering. The result is an intimate mosaic of personal accounts and images that fills the void in which prejudice and distorted narratives about immigration thrive. It gives the viewer/reader/listener the opportunity to hear above the clamouring headlines the voices of people who, for a whole variety of reasons and from very different backgrounds, have made Birmingham their home.

The exhibition presents the stories and photographic portraits of 34 individuals from over 25 different countries. By presenting just a small sample of voices, the project is therefore also dedicated to all those individuals whose personal stories of migration continue to go unheard.

Quotes from participants

“I think this is the first platform I could actually find where I could actually talk about this stuff” – Karina

“I feel like being able to tell me story is… able to give Birmingham and the country and the people here a different image of themselves, to give young people an idea that you don’t judge people at face value.” – Gavin

“Its nice to encounter a lot of different people from different ages and backgrounds you’d not necessarily have struck that conversation up with otherwise” – Shirin

” Those who are looking to divide say that we are all different, we can’t connect, but we are showing that we can get together and learn from each other’s stories. The stories prove to us that we are all the same deep down.” – Harry



About The GAP Arts Project

The GAP Arts Project is a youth-led, Birmingham-based arts organisation that creates space and time for young people to make sense of the world through creative and cultural action. Though the remit of our work is by no means exclusively focused on migration or asylum, this has become a prominent part of our work over the past two years. We have worked with many asylum seeking children and young people through our creative projects, drawn attention to related issues through our public programming, and built close & lasting relationships with many local organisations, groups and individuals working to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

For more information, see our website –

Mohsen, Iran

Practical info

16 x A2 foamboard mounted photographs
17 x A3 foamboard mounted photographs
33 x A6 foamboard mounted text panels
1 x roller banner with introductory text, approx 1m x 2.5m (optional, as you could produce hand-out interpretative material if preferred)
1 – 5 booklets including full summaries (optional)
Audio from interviews are also possible (though not necessary) to be incorporated.

We can provide the audio files, but are unable to provide the equipment required for playback, which will need to be sourced yourselves

A deposit must be paid in advance. This will be returned after we receive back the exhibition materials, minus any costs to cover any damage. You will also need to cover any delivery costs.

To express an interest or request further information, please email Ella Marshall at

Install shot1 Install shot 2