Migrants do not always have a recipient in mind for the things they send home. Back in the Philippines, their families open their boxes with mixed feelings. Sometimes, it is joy; other times, frustration. Stuff not only bonds but also clutters relationships, creating both connections and dis-connections.
This work is a collection of gifts sent from loved ones from overseas. Some sent to me by my aunt who works as a nurse in the US and some sent to a friend whose immediate family members comprise mostly of migrant workers.
Filipinos are the tenth-largest group of migrants to the UK from outside Europe. About 220,000 Filipinos live in the UK. Most are citizens or have leave to remain and many are professionals, employed as engineers, managers, and academics, as well as working in the care sector.
Project participants were mainly care and domestic workers on temporary work visas. In London, back garden sheds are sometimes turned into makeshift housing for people with limited resources whose immigration status prevents them from accessing state benefits. From beds in sheds people nest and nurture their aspirations and investments, making futures for themselves and their families in the UK and the Philippines.
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These paper flowers were made by members of the Filipino Domestic Workers Association for the Beyond Myself exhibition in London. The flowers travelled as part of the exhibition to Manila and Hong Kong.
The arch of flowers replicates those made for saint processions in the Philippines and in local spring and summer festivals in the UK as shown in Nathalie Dagmang’s film, Dios te Salva, screened here.