EXILE: sono oriunda (I am of Italian descent)

The Hub, National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire
6 May – 2 July 2023

What does it feel like to go into exile?

In 1923, artist Susan Aldworth’s grandmother Luigia Berni, carrying a small baby and a suitcase, left Italy for London in search of a better life. Many people in the UK have migration as part of their family history but despite clear evidence of the positive impact of immigration on cultural and economic life in the UK over centuries, being from a migrant background can impact on life chances and well-being as it still carries stigma and prejudice. Behind the numbers are individual stories which get ignored in current political rhetoric. Aldworth, in collaboration with the Royal School of Needlework and Sleaford Embroiderers, unpacks this personal story of exile in a spectacular installation of historic embroidered clothing and family photographs, in the hope it will resonate with many.

I inherited my grandmother’s linen nightdress which I have embroidered and printed on to represent her journey. It already carries a unique history as it has been passed from generation to generation and has travelled from Italy to London. It is the perfect object to bring to life this personal story of exile.