‘They Went to Sea’ Mural Focuses on Immigration and is Created from Yola’s Award-Winning Film, Doncaster 2022

The city of Doncaster sees another incredible work of street art injected into the heart of the city by acclaimed international artist Jola Kudela, known professionally as Yola.

Combining forces with the Polish Cultural Institute, which provided financial support for the mural’s development, curator Mike Stubbs and the urban art production team Art of Protest Projects, the mural focuses on immigration and is created from Yola’s award-winning film “They Went to Sea.”

The mural is titled by the same name and is inspired by Edward Lear’s limerick “The Jumblies”.

“The poem speaks about a group of Jumblies who went on a journey to discover the world in the least suitable vessel, a sieve. It’s a story of a group of people who abandon the old status quo in search of something new. It can be interpreted as a metaphor for the migration movements around the world in pursuit of a better life.” Yola

Yola divides her time between the UK, France and Poland. She studied at the Polish Film School in Lodz and CFT Gobelins in Paris. As a VFX artist, she worked in the film industry on major blockbusters in London (Harry Potter, Narnia, Dark Shadows). For the past few years, she’s been concentrating on her art projects. She has travelled the world with her street art, exhibiting in Warsaw, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Paris, Liege, London, Harlow, Brighton, Liverpool and now Doncaster.

“I wanted to create an abstract, dynamic composition with the movement of human bodies following the flow and rhythm of the music. In order to do so, I approached Małgorzata Dzierzon, a leading Polish choreographer and artistic co-director of Fertile Ground, a dance company dedicated to creation, touring and talent development in the North of England. The dancers are surrounded by the symbolic sea created with the help of an algorithm that generates graphic waves in real time, using the luminance and the movement of the dancers, as well as the frequency of the music.” Yola

The stunning mural is brought to life with a meaningful story behind it featuring an AR film triggered by a QR code or automatically if you have the ‘Artivive’ app installed on your phone.

From image stills taken from the video of the choreographed dance production, Yola created the artwork for what would then be replicated and painted as a large-scale urban mural by the Yorkshire-based creative production team Art of Protest Projects, led by Jeff Clark and Tom Jackson.

The mural proudly sits on Cleveland Street against a large red brick wall and tells many stories, all within one work of art.

The mural was officially celebrated at the launch of Doncaster’s annual ArtBomb festival in July, and the film supporting the mural has recently been awarded Best Experimental Film at Florence’s Film Awards, Best Musical Short Film at International Sound Future Awards New York 2022 and Honourable Mention at Paris Film Awards 2022.

“We are very pleased to support the making of Jola Kudela’s mural, which tells the story of people who leave their homes and embark on a dangerous journey to find a new one. This theme is extremely close to the hearts of many people of Polish roots living in the UK as after World War 2, Great Britain became such a new home for many Poles, and not so long ago, after Poland joined the EU, Polish migrants became the UK’s largest minority. Today many of them have built up their careers and families and are an important part of the vibrant fabric of British society, also found here in Doncaster. However, a completely new context to this project was created on the 24th February with Russia’s violent assault on Ukraine. Over 4 million refugees, among them thousands of children, crossed the border with Poland, where they’ve found a safe haven and support, while some embarked on the further journey to European countries, including the UK. Poland is now a host to over 3 million members of the Ukrainian community and became known around the world for not having to set up a single refugee camp. At the PCI we believe that this war should also be an opportunity to present the values and cultural heritage of Central-Eastern Europe as well as its contemporary artists. This is why we support projects like Yola’s, projects that seek to express solidarity and compassion with those in need while building new bridges between the cultures of our countries.” Marta de Zuniga, Director of the Polish Cultural Institute London

The new mural has already garnered local and international attention coverage and is being celebrated by the city with a new documentary covering the details behind the very interesting story of “They Went to Sea.” See the documentary here to learn more about this new public artwork.

Photo Credit Jeff Clark



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