The migration of creative individuals and groups has always been a source of innovation and cultural cross-fertilisation. This exhibition looks back to the crucial influence of émigrés who came from eastern and central Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. It explores how they were perceived by their peers in Britain and the extent to which their influence excited or inspired new art including artists such as Joan Eardley, Josef Herman, Ben Nicholson and Kurt Schwitters. It also explores the temporary exile of refugees from the Franco-Prussian War, the First World War and forward to the present, when the reception of refugees from war-torn Iran, Iraq and Afhanistan and their contributions to British life remain contentious.
Exhibited artists include Martin Bloch, Naum Gabo, Humberto Gatica, Mona Hatoum, Barbara Hepworth, Samira Kitman, Heinz Koppel, Josef Koudelka, Hanaa Malallah, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Lotte Reiniger, Zory Shahrokhi and Walid Siti.
Many of the artists present stories of escape from dispossession, persecution, torture, intellectual oppression and war. The welcome for foreign artists has not always been positive and has included critical hostility, financial difficulties, personal tragedy and even internment, yet they have often exerted a remarkably direct influence on British contemporaries.