The Welcome project


The Welcome Project was an initiative with two parts carried out by Alex Urso in London during his stay at the residency program by Art Apartments and the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. The theme of the residency was London is Open, inspired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s campaign to keep London open to the rest of the world, especially in the pre-Brexit era. In order to take on this topic, Urso came up with two complementary projects.

Firstly, he created a drape combining the Greater London flag and the Refugee Nation flag. The flag of Greater London has no official status but ceremonially represents the London boroughs, which make up the county of Greater London; the Refugee Nation flag was created to commemorate the participation of the first ever refugee team in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Yara Said, an artist and a refugee from Syria, designed it using black and orange as a symbol of solidarity for all the people who had to wear life vests to cross the sea looking for safety in a new country.

Urso’s drape combines the two flags, which have radically different meanings: the Greater London flag (a symbol of local identity) and the Refugee Nation flag (representing people who, due to political reasons, have been deprived of their national status).

In the second part of the residency, Urso focused on something more performance-based, involving London’s citizens: the artist knocked on the doors of Londoners asking them to swap their doormats for new ones featuring one word: “Welcome”. In accepting to exchange the doormats, each homeowner agreed to embrace the idea of London as an open and welcoming place. The final result was a mosaic of doormats representing the willingness of Londoners to be open (or not).

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Look how far I come (The Welcome project). Doormat, 2018