You Are Here

The ‘You Are Here’ project, managed by tees valley arts and funded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Trust Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, seeks to use the talents and creativity of refugee people themselves to speak directly to the people of the Tees Valley – through writing, music, dance, film, textiles and visual arts.

In the Autumn of 2004 tees valley arts produced a CD Rom for adults and young people, and a short animated film for children, looking at some of the difficulties that refugee people face, and celebrating some of the talents and skills they have to offer.

Also, as part of ‘You Are Here’, tees valley arts had commissioned work from two artists – local visual artist Helen Shannon, and poet/performer/broadcaster Ian McMillan – the legendary Bard of Barnsley and ‘beat poet’ with Humberside Police.

Helen created five poster designs which were displayed on the backs of ten Arriva buses travelling throughout the Tees Valley during June. The images explored a sense of loss of comfort and safety, and of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, through the use of abandoned toys in hostile landscapes. Helen used colour in the images to heighten a sense of coldness and distance, and to express the shared humanity of all people.

Ian McMillan was a guest writer in the Tees Valley during the week beginning Monday 14th June – National Refugee Week. He met people, conducted workshops, writing and performing. He was particularly interested in meeting refugees and people seeking asylum who have an interest in poetry, performance or music, and he encouraged people to talk about their experiences and their homelands.

You Are Here

You are here, now. Look:
You are here. You are pointing
To the map, and your finger
Is tracing the route you took
To be here, now. Look:
You were there. You were crying
In the dark as the engine
Groaned its way across the map
To be here, now. Look:
New is here. New is pointing
At you on the street and
You are gasping at the risks you took.
You. Here. Now. Look:
Listen, we are listening
As you unfold the map of your world
And you begin to sing.
You are here.
I am here.
We are here.
All singing.

Ian McMillan
Written for tees valley arts’ National Refugee Week Project in June 2004