Photographer Olivia Arthur’s newest series "Children of Europe" looks ahead to the future of Britain, beyond Brexit and through the current debates over identity and immigration. The work draws heavy inspiration from David Seymour's series of the same title from the post-WWII era, when Europe was awash with displaced people looking to find new homes.
The present immigration crisis has similar undertones, although the new arrivals are often from much farther away, causing consternation among more settled citizens over the “otherness” of their new neighbors.
“What's very much at the forefront of my mind is that we're closing our doors, and that feels very sad,” Arthur says.
“I see this as the beginning of something, looking at the way that our society is changing in the UK and our national identity crisis. This is part of a bigger picture and how the country is going to change. I’d love to follow up with these kids in 10 years' time and see how many are still in Glasgow.”
“In the UK there are certain areas where people get sent, Glasgow is one of those. I was amazed by the huge range of nationalities that I met. I’d like to see what life is like for refugees living in rural areas where integration is even harder."
Arthur worked with a nongovernment organization out of Glasgow to connect with many of the families, and plans to continue the project in different areas around the UK. Many of the children photographed were hesitant about sharing their experiences — some had been traumatized by the travels to get to Europe, while others gave answers they thought Arthur expected.
“I love the picture of the girl jumping — she had so much energy and really enjoyed the shoot, she kept coming up with different suggestions for things to do. There’s a little boy on his enormous teddy bear because they brought it with them from Kyrgyzstan with all their other belongings, which I can't imagine,” Arthur says.