Christopher Gillespie: The Migration of Distrust


23rd - 27th September 2016 A series of drawings by Christopher Gillespie. The images investigate the lingering effects of migrating from a place of conflict to one of peace: Exploring how seemingly mundane environments become infused with unease, fear and loss.

When people talk of Migration they often draw a closed dichotomy between ‘us’ and ‘them’. However, even within a single culture, migration can occur between many places whose tension and conflicts differ. Within the UK and Ireland migration can deposit people, whose viewpoint was developed under ‘the threat’, into safe, peaceful places. These peaceful spaces, rather than being a refuge, can often draw out any internal conflicts. If unease and fear were understandable responses to danger, they now become irrational or even paranoid - somewhere safe can now look dangerous, and some anonymous stranger can be a threat. This forms a little discussed social barrier between people who might otherwise be described as ‘the same’.

These pictures are a set of line-drawings done over the course of three years and are from a post-troubles Northern Irish perspective. They retreat away from the ubiquitous political symbol or icon and focus on a more personal exploration of the lingering effects of violence on autobiographical attention. The images comprise of a series of small studies of mundane and ordinary places within Edinburgh, London and Glasgow. They interrogate the migration of distrust into new places, representing the currents of tension that arise in those places when personal conflict exploits the ambiguity within a scene. However, far from being reductionist the images also hold open the possibility of the importance of the mundane – a way out of an oppressive, distrustful vision of the world.

Although they come from a specific post-troubles view-point they ask an important question: If the lingering tension of conflict can divide those in a single culture, how realistic are the expectations of assimilation we put on those from other cultures?