Previously at the ICA - Events

Refugee Tales 2017

Refugee Tales 2017

5 Jul 2017

In June 2015 the Refugee Tales project walked in solidarity with refugees, asylum seekers and immigration detainees, from Dover to Crawley along the North Downs Way. As the project walked it reclaimed the landscape of South East England for the language of welcome, gathering and communicating experiences of migration to show, in particular, what indefinite detention means. In 2016 the participants and organisers walked again, this time celebrating their historic act of solidarity at the ICA.

In 2017, following a walk from Runnymede to Westminster, Refugee Tales walkers arrive at the ICA calling for an end to indefinite immigration detention in the UK. At every stop of the way leading writers will help tell the tales of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees, as well as the stories of those who work with them.  

Hosted by Hugh Muir, and with music from jazz singer Ian Shaw, the ICA line-up includes poet David Herd and a screening of Sarah Wood’s short film Azure, featuring novelist Ali Smith. Olivia Laing will read The Abandoned Person’s Tale and Abdulrazak Gurnah will read The Arriver’s Tale, both retellings of the stories of individuals who have direct experience of Britain’s policy of indefinite immigration detention.  

This event marks the publication of Refugee Tales Part Two by Comma Press, which will be available in the ICA Bookshop.  

Refugee Tales is an outreach project of the charity Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group.


  • Abdulrazak Gurnah

    Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in 1948 in Zanzibar and teaches at the University of Kent. He is the author of seven novels which include Paradise (shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prizes), By the Sea (longlisted for the Booker Prize and awarded the RFI Temoin du monde prize) and Desertion (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize).  

  • David Herd

    David Herd is a poet, critic, and teacher. He has given readings and lectures in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Poland, the USA and the UK, and his poems, essays and reviews have been widely published in magazines, journals and newspapers. His collections of poetry include All Just (Carcanet, 2012) Outwith (Bookthug, 2012) and Through (Carcanet 2016). His recent writings on the politics of human movement have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Los Angeles Review of Books, Parallax and Almost Island. He is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Kent and a co-organiser of Refugee Tales.  

  • Olivia Laing

    Olivia Laing is a writer and critic. She was born in 1977 and lives in Cambridge. She writes and reviews widely, for the Guardian, New Statesman, Observer and New York Times among other publications. She’s also a regular columnist for Frieze. Her first book, To the River, was published by Canongate in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Her second book, The Trip to Echo Spring, about writers and alcoholism, was published by Canongate in 2013. It was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize. She’s a MacDowell and Yaddo Fellow, and has received awards from the Arts Council UK and the Authors’ Foundation. She was also 2014 Eccles Writer in Residence at the British Library. Her latest book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, is in an investigation into loneliness by way of art. It was published by Canongate in March 2016.  

  • Hugh Muir

    Hugh Muir is Associate Editor, Opinion and a columnist at the Guardian. He also works as a freelance broadcaster and pundit on the BBC, LBC and Sky News. For seven years, he wrote the Diary column, also authoring the long running, pioneering series Hideously Diverse Britain on diversity in the UK. A former BBC correspondent, he has also had prominent roles at the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard and Mail on Sunday.  

  • Ian Shaw

    In 1990 Ian Shaw toured Europe and recorded with fellow singer Carol Grimes. By the mid-1990s, he was regularly performing at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and in 1995 released two albums: Ghosthouse and Taking It to Hart. In 1996, Shaw led his own ‘Very Big Band’ on a UK tour, and by the late 1990s he was performing regularly in the U.S.  In 1999, he released In a New York Minute, in 2001 Soho Stories and in 2003 A World Still Turning. Shaw has continued to work regularly with singer Claire Martin, co-hosting the 2004 BBC Jazz Awards and appearing with her on the BBC Radio 2 show Big Band Special.

    He won in the Best Jazz Vocalist category at the BBC Jazz Awards in 2004 and 2007. A 2006 album on Linn Records saw him paying tribute to songwriter Joni Mitchell: Drawn to All Things was followed in 2008 by an autobiographical album, Lifejacket. Somewhere Towards Love from 2009 was an intimate album of voice and piano. In 2011 on The Abbey Road Sessions, Shaw was again joined by a band, this time including bass player, Peter Ind. Shaw has continued to perform regularly at festivals and jazz clubs in the UK,  and his international appearances have included Canada, the United States, Dubai, Belarus, France, Italy, and Germany. Shaw is also an actor, performing in Jerry Springer: The Opera as the warm-up man/devil, a role created for him by Richard Thomas. In 2005, he appeared as Percy in the film Pierrepoint. His most recent album is The Theory of Joy.

  • Ali Smith

    Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of Artful, There but for the, Freelove, Like, Hotel World, Other Stories and Other Stories, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl meets Boy and The First Person and Other Stories. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. How To Be Both won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Costa Novel of the Year and the Goldsmiths Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker and Folio Prize. Her most recent novel Autumn is the first of a four-part series in which she explores “what time is, how we experience it”.

  • Sarah Wood

    Sarah Wood was born in 1967 in London. She has worked for the past fifteen years with artists’ film as a writer, curator and filmmaker. Her film work focuses on the found object, particularly the still and moving documentary image, which she interrogates not only as an act of reclamation but also as a questioning of the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory.

In partnership with

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