A new display co-created by six ‘community curators’ with personal experiences of migration will shine a fresh light on works from Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Collection. Journeys will explore themes of identity and belonging, the challenges and triumphs of migration and London’s multiculturalism.

The display will be shaped around the personal and diverse stories of the curators; aged between 29 and 69, whose combined heritage spans eight countries – including Yemen, Sri Lanka, Italy, Pakistan and Ireland. It will examine the contemporary relevance of paintings by artists such as Poussin, Rubens, Canaletto and Van Dyck, revealing the importance of migration in enabling a dynamic, cultural exchange of ideas. 

Together, the team have worked to find ways in which Old Master paintings can speak to the topic of migration, discussing the complexities in order to write arresting and thought-provoking interpretation for the display. Seen through this new lens, A Brisk Breeze (c.1665), by Willem van de Velde the younger, shows the strength of a traveller by depicting sailors battling against a colossal and chaotic climate. It is one of a group of paintings chosen for its significance to the theme of migration and represents the challenges and triumphs of a journey, as well as the determination needed to undertake them. 

Rasha Obaid, one of the volunteers on the project, said: “I joined the project to learn more about the Gallery and its collection. But also, because I feel I have something to share with people. I am a refugee, I see what is said on the news, and I don’t necessarily relate to everything. l want to show a more positive side, and to make it more human.” 

Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich, SE21 from 21st January – 24th June. Times: Tues – Sun 10am – 5pm. Admission: £16.50.