Ellis Island Series

' Ellis Island is enveloped by a tremendous intensity of emotion. The passage of countless souls has left behind a strong human presence anchored in its emptiness. Like a pebble or a piece of driftwood, it also bears witness to the passage of time, to change, to Nature's own path, to what we see as chaos and decay. I wandered around in silence, letting myself be guided by unknown forces compelling me to explore unlikely desolate corners of the endless mass. I saw the light making its rounds, a little different every moment, every day, and yet the same. Disturbed only by the sound of a pigeon's wings, I heard the voices of the millions of people who came through here, building a temple with their highest joys and deepest sorrows men, women and children who made it through to a new life or, who died straining to look through a dusty mirror at what they knew they could not possess.' ( Eleni Mylonas)


In 1892 the United States Immigration Station was established on Ellis Island , New York . For countless immigrants this was the waiting room for the promised land. Some 3,500 people died on Ellis Island and 350 were born there. These paintings represent my initial response to a visit to Ellis Island in the summer of 2004. The trip was a personal odyssey as, just before the First World War and sailing from Liverpool on the Lusitania , my family too had passed through this gateway to a new life in the coalfields of Alabama. Of many of these 'forgotten voices', all that remains are torn and faded photographic records. These photographs and my own images taken during my visit have been the starting point for these first paintings in a new body of work

'Ellis Island IV' (2005)
Mixed media on rusted steel
75 x 125 cm

'Ellis Island I' (2005)
Mixed media on photographic paper
70 x 90 cm

 

 

'Ellis Island III' (2005)
Mixed media on rusted steel
125 x 75 cm