During 2004, Brighton-based artists Julia Winckler and Nerea Martinez de Lecea worked with a small group of local interpreters to create a bookwork called A Country I Always Carry With Me.
The project explored themes of home, identity and cultural displacement. The interpreters were invited to reflect on their own experiences of displacement and the process of interpreting using photography and other media through a series of artist-led workshops.
A Country I Always Carry With Me grew out of a series of conversations with Phil Collins, an artist invited to make a new bookwork for BPB 2003 in collaboration with Photoworks. Collins journeys to places most of us might choose to avoid – Baghdad, Kosovo, Belfast. He engages directly and intimately with people and their experiences, building relationships or making a connection with someone he meets, somewhere he visits. These exchanges are the trigger for his photographs and video works.
In 2003 Collins spent a number of months living in Brighton in a small flat in Embassy Court, an iconic but (then) crumbling 1930s modernist building on the seafront. During his time there, Collins made work about some of the people that he came into contact with – refugees, asylum seekers and the agencies and communities that support them. He set up barbecues that brought people together, and attended social events, getting to know and making friends with the people he met. A Country I Always Carry With Me was inspired by that commission. It mirrored aspects of it by inviting interpreters to reflect on their own experiences of displacement and the process of interpreting, using photography and other media. All of the works reflected the complexity of the mediating role of interpreters. The artist-led workshops, facilitated with understanding and sensitivity by Julia Winckler and Nerea Martinez de Lecea provided the opportunity for this contemplation.