We Are Immigrants.
"Merthyr - a town built by immigrants at the peak of the Industrial Revolution. Where Spanish, Irish and Italian accents mingled with the Welsh.
Though the heavy industry has gone, today a modern breed of immigrant has flocked to the town" (We'll Keep a Welcome, 2015).
I have been living in Merthyr Tydfil since 2015. I moved to an unfamiliar place without any related previous knowledge except that there were more opportunities for employment and I was more likely to improve my family’s financial situation here, as opposed to my home country.
Sometime after I arrived, I found a book on the history of Merthyr. I don't remember its title, but importantly - it was an illustration by local artist Dewi Bowen of immigrants arriving to Merthyr around 1830.
I took a photograph of this picture then, as it was the period of the upcoming referendum on the future of United Kingdom in the European Union. I was intrigued that despite anti-European slogans appearing around, the story of the heyday of 19th-century Merthyr during the industrial revolution, described in the book, was as it is today, co-created also by immigrants.
The present meets the past.
The idea of my ongoing project is to introduce ordinary people, members of the local Polish community of immigrants: my friends, their families, neighbors, people, who like those from two hundred years ago, came here hoping for a the better future. And although initially it was an attempt to legitimize my presence here, over time these portraits also became a starting point for answering the question of how free we are in our choices and how much our decisions are determined by our history.