Travelling West 2013
Travelling West depicts the journey of my friend, Hossein, as he travelled overland from his home town, Qazvin, in Western Iran, to England, seeking asylum. The pot shows him as a nine year old, working as a porter in the bazaar in Qazvin. Above, the road leads away from the city into the mountains towards the Turkish border. Hossein left Iran at New Year, March 2006, and arrived at a service station on the M1 in June the same year. After leaving Qazvin, he travelled by bus to a village close to the Turkish border and from there he went by truck to meet the smugglers who travel through the mountain passes on horse-back to avoid check points. From a village on the Turkish side, he travelled by lorry and on foot: the lorry took the refugees by road but when a check point was in sight, they had to walk, at night, over the mountains to reconnect with the road and another truck on the other side of that check point. The pot shows the roads zig-zagging high into the moutains. Hossein specifically remembers the sight of the full moon and stars shining on the snow as he reached the plateau from which they descended to meet the next truck and to continue this physically punishing section of the journey.
From the Turkish city of Van, he took a bus to Istanbul, using forged identity papers in case he was questioned at one of the fourteen checkpoints on the way. From Istanbul he went by lorry, with another group, to Ezmir and from there, by boat, to the Greek mainland and on to Athens. The boat was not seaworthy and almost sunk. They had to be rescued by another smuggler.
At every point of change, he was passed on to a new trafficker, each one arranged by the one before. These are not simple exchanges, each leg of the jouney is fraught with danger - violence is never far from the surface. From Athens he went by plane to Paris, Orly where he took the metro to Gare du Nord and took the train to Calais. At Calais, in the queue for food, provided by kindly French charity workers, he met an old friend. They made a sleeping place in the cabin of an old crane until, one night, after numerous attempts, they got on a lorry which took them to England, disgorging them all in the car park of a service station on the M1.
View other projects:
Night Walker 2014
Travelling West 2013