Express & Star

Migrant bird boxes created in new Black Country art project

A new art project by a Black Country migrant group will see six bird boxes created with images from different Eastern European countries.

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Promoting an art project with bird boxes, from U Island CIC (L to R) Olena Yanchuk, Irina Oshenye, and Julia Zerihun at RSPB Sandwell Valley in Great Barr

U Island CIC, which works to help children and families from Eastern European communities with integration and other processes, has been awarded £20,000 of funding to deliver the project.

The funding, which comes from the Arts Council and Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations, will allow professional artists to work with different groups to create the bird boxes, which will be displayed across the Sandwell borough.

U Island CIC director Irina Oshenye said: "It's a project based on migration, but it aims to show the migration of people through the metaphor of the migration of birds, because birds migrate for better weather and food.

"We realised that we, as people, do the same, so we're going to create six bird boxes for this project, representing something about Eastern Europe.

"It may be something to do with Eastern European people, architecture or the birds that migrate from Western Europe to Britain or maybe a joint history connection."


The project will see different community groups within the Eastern European diaspora work on boxes, with the Czech community working on one box and the Latvian community on another, while there will also be a group of elderly people from the UK also taking part.

Each completed bird box will also have a QR code embossed on it which, when scanned, will give information about the area represented by the bird box.

Ms Oshenye, who emigrated to the UK from Poland in 2008, said the project was a way of promoting the contribution of Eastern Europeans to the region.

She said: "It's going to have different themes representing migration and showing the society we live in.

"It also states that we are Eastern European and we are not aliens as we live here, we work here and we contribute to society here and we love this country.

"It's a project that offers a lot of useful information and opportunities for people to learn about us and about our culture."