As part of a new series of work I have been developing, I have been researching emigration and exile, especially the mass emigrations from Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries.
With this in mind I was luck enough to have the opportunity to visit Ellis Island, the former emigration centre on the Hudson River in New York, where many hundreds of thousands of European migrants were processed and graded for suitability for entry to the United States. It has been restored and tell the story of the people who made this brave journey into the unknown.
When standing in the Registry Hall (pictured below) it was incredible to think that at times they would deal with around !5,000 people in a day! And even more daunting was the fact that, even after weeks at sea, you could be deemed unsuitable for entry and sent back to Europe on the next ship. The whole journey and subsequent events must have been unbelievable trial of strength and faith for the emigrants.
It was very useful to be able to walk around the buildings and make the short crossing to the island in helping me to formulate the ideas for my project. There is nothing more useful to an artist that first hand experience of subjects and places, in order to get a clear picture of the subject you are dealing with,
I hope the work I produce will be a fitting tribute to the bravery of these pioneering people.