May 24, 2021

Across Borders: new commissions in Greece, Germany and the UK

We are delighted to announce four new public art commissions as part of a three-year international programme of work in partnership with organisations and artists in Greece, Germany and the UK.

The lead artists for 2021 are:

Olivier Kugler and Andrew Humphreys – The Great British Fish & Chips

Commissioned in partnership with Turner Contemporary in Margate and Canterbury Cathedral.

Olivier is a London-based editorial illustrator and visual journalist whose award-winning book “Escaping the Waves” documented the experiences of Syrian refugees in Europe. He is working with Andrew, a journalist and writer, on a new project exploring the story of fish and chips, from its refugee origins to the present day. The commission will see large scale work exhibited at Turner Contemporary in Margate from June 2021, alongside an ambitious programme of schools engagement and an associated exhibition at Canterbury Cathedral.

Mojisola Adebayo – Leaves From Family Tree

Connected to a project commissioned by Actors Touring Company (ATC) and the Young Vic.

Black British Berlin-based theatre artist Dr Mojisola Adebayo, who has worked on theatre and performance projects internationally from Antarctica to Zimbabwe, will be undertaking research and development and presenting work connected to a commission from ATC and Young Vic, alongside discussions and a four-day workshop with Dr Nicole Wolf, for and with artists of refugee background, located in a community garden in Berlin. The work connects to the subject of migration, environmental racism and climate justice, through a female African Diasporic lens. It makes the connection between extraction from the land and the Black female body as a site of extraction.

Adrian Paci: commissioned in partnership with Victoria Square Project (VSP) in Athens.

Born in Albania and now living in Italy, Adrian is an artist whose work has been exhibited internationally including at the Venice Biennale.  His commission will engage with the neighbourhood of Victoria Square, leading to a public installation/intervention in the Square itself in Autumn 2021. It will form part of VSP’s ongoing enquiry: Who Is The Contemporary Athenian? with an associated residency programme for emerging artists.

Poetry at Platforma 6 – across Yorkshire

A programme of poetry performance and workshops in a programme curated by poet and educator Kayon Chingonyi.

Kayo’s first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 and went on to win the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. His new collection, A Blood Condition, was published this year. Kayo will be curating a programme of poetry, spoken word and Hip Hop, as well as hosting and performing in locations across Yorkshire.

Additional information

Alongside the main commissions in each of the four locations there will be a range of smaller commissions, as well as leadership development programmes, media campaigns, schools workshops and a series of networking and development sessions for organisations across the arts, refugee and migration sectors. More information on all aspects of this programme will be published on our blog as work progresses using #acrossborders . For any enquiries contact

Olivier Kugler and Andrew Humphreys : Kent

Olivier Kugler is a London-based editorial illustrator and visual journalist. He has published work in the Guardian, New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, French journal XXI and German GQ. He has done extensive reporting on Syrian refugees in Europe and a book collecting this work and called Escaping Wars and Waves was published in the UK in 2018; it has won two major European design and illustration awards.

Andrew Humphreys has written more than 20 guidebooks and he now runs an independent publishing house, Paradise Road. His journalism has appeared in the Financial Times, Sunday Times, Observer and Time Out magazine. He has written two books on intrepid early travellers in Egypt and is currently working on a book about Eel Pie Island, a legendary music and counter-culture haunt in the Thames.

Their new projectexplores the history and present-day reality of Fish & Chips in the UK, through the lens of migration and displacement. Fish & Chips can be traced back to Huguenot and Jewish refugees in the UK and people from all over the world continue to be central to the farming and fishing industries and the high street shops.For this commission Olivier and Andrew will focus on Kent, with work to be displayed from June 2021 at Turner Contemporary and Canterbury Cathedral. The producer for Counterpoints Arts in Kent is Vanessa Stone.

Mojisola Adebayo : Berlin

Mojisola Adebayo is a playwright, performer, director, producer, workshop facilitator and lecturer. Over the past 25 years she has performed in over 50 productions, writing, devising and directing over 30 plays. Her own plays include Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey, Muhammad Ali and Me, and I Stand Corrected. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, she is currently on a research fellowship exploring theatre, literature, environmental racism and climate justice at University of Potsdam, just outside Berlin. 

The scenes Mojisola will present in a public garden in Berlin, directed by Matthew Xia, are inspired by Henrietta Lacks, an African American tobacco farmer descended from enslaved people, whose extraordinary everlasting cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951, are still multiplying after her death and continue to be used in medical research all over the world today. Scenes will also feature Anarcha, Betsey and Lucy, three enslaved African American women who were operated on without consent or anaesthetic and are the forgotten ‘mothers’ of modern gynaecology.

The scenes focus on these Black women, whose lives, bodies and legacies have affected every European family and individual today, yet most have never heard their names. The work seeks to draw a map on which their names are placed. The trans-Atlantic slave is a story of mass forced migration and its Diasporic afterlives continue that migration story. The slave trade was environmental, slavery was agricultural and the legacies can be seen in climate injustice today. Accompanying workshops and discussions will engage with questions of climate justice, environmental racism and migration.

The producer for Counterpoints Arts in Germany is Natasha Davis.

Adrian Paci : Athens

Adrian Paci was born in Albania and now lives in Italy. His work has been shown at the Venice Biennale and in solo exhibitions including in New York, Ljubljana and Zurich.

Commissioning partner Victoria Square Project (VSP) is an evolving social sculpture. It was created by the artists Rick Lowe and Maria Papadimitriou in the framework of documenta 14, in Athens, in 2017. It now operates as a contemporary art space focused on the empowerment and inspiration of the residents of Victoria. VSP aims to be a catalyst for highlighting the importance of culture, art and creativity in order to build a more humane society.

The commission will be part of VSP’s programme: Who Is The Contemporary Athenian? This question is posed as an attempt to identify concretely the elements that define an inclusive Athenian society today beyond labels like immigrant, refugee, first or second generation, Greek etc, but under the common ground of the neighbours and co-citizens.

A residency programme, Station One, will also form part of this programme, with Counterpoints as one of the partners. Focusing on socially engaged artistic practices, Station One Residency for emerging artists aims to promote the dialogue amongst the Greek artistic scene on a wide range of community engaged practices.

A range of other partners across the arts and NGO sectors will also be involved in the programme including Solidarity Now, who will be leading a photography project with young people in Athens.

Kayo Chingonyi : Yorkshire

Kayo’s first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 and went on to win the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. His new collection, A Blood Condition, is published this year. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Studies and lives in Leeds. Kayo is also an emcee, producer, and DJ and regularly collaborates with musicians and composers both as a poet and a lyricist.

Our commissioning partners include East Street Arts who have become leaders in the artist-led sector by empowering artists to be self-determined, take control, incite change and influence decision-makers to improve people’s lives and environments.

The commission will be part of a programme for Platforma 6, a festival produced by Counterpoints Arts taking place across Yorkshire throughout October 2021

About Across Borders

The aim of this three-year international programme, supported by Comic Relief as part of their Across Borders initiative, include to help normalise and diversify representations of refugees in mainstream media, arts & culture.

The overall goal of Comic Relief’s Across Borders programme is to support refugees and people seeking asylum to safe, legal and dignified routes to fulfilling and happy settlement, whether that be in the country of destination, transition country or country of origin.  They aim to achieve this through a combination of:

  • Direct service delivery at grassroots level
  • Shifting public attitudes and countering negative narrative through campaigns, the arts, media and popular culture, both in the UK and internationally
  • Changes to policy, practice and legislation.

 Image: Adrian Paci, ‘Centro di Permanenza Temporanea’ (2007)