Journey

‘I come from a small place with eight houses.
As a child I always wanted more than I had.’

– Elena’s story, Journey

‘Journey’ was a travelling art exhibition based on the experience of one of our clients – Elena.

Elena was trafficked from Moldova to London and forced to work as a prostitute. She escaped her tormentors and came to the Helen Bamber Foundation for therapy. After a long and difficult process of recovery, Elena worked with our chair Emma Thompson and artists to show audiences “for just five minutes” what it is like to be trafficked.

Seven shipping containers were decorated by Emma Thompson, Sam Roddick (Coco de Mer founder), Mike Dempsey (Royal designer), Anish Kapoor and others. The containers held mirrors, puppets and narratives, sound and sensory installations, and even a 40-foot bespoke Anish Kapoor sculpture. We gained invaluable support wherever we took Journey, exhibiting in London (2007), Vienna (2008), New York (2009), Madrid (2009) and most recently The Hague (2010).

Journey raised awareness amongst the public; campaigned for improved support, legal protection for victims of trafficking, and provided educational opportunities for NGOs, government, schools and the public. Helen Bamber Foundation continues to receive thousands of referrals of people who have been trafficked, enslaved and tortured, and in this economic and political climate, we continue to prioritise our frontline work with survivors of the torturous ordeals Journey was designed to represent.

Each month we continue to receive requests for Journey to be shown in a variety of locations worldwide, and we are incredibly grateful to those who wish to help in raising awareness and creating change around the issue of human trafficking.

We are so proud to have created such a popular and meaningful project, but unfortunately it was extremely costly to transport, display, maintain and store. It was originally designed and built to be a one-off exhibition in London and many of the external containers have now started to disintegrate through years of travelling. After much thought and careful consideration the Foundation and its Trustees decided it was best the exhibition should be decommissioned.

We continue to welcome the interest and support of the international community who have been so receptive of and excited by Journey over the years. If the exhibition has attracted your attention to our work, we would be delighted to discuss other ways in which you can support and raise awareness of our work and help tackle the issues Journey sought to represent. We look forward to appraising you of other similar projects which may be on the horizon in the future.

‘Journey is a remarkable piece of collaborative, creative and confrontational art that profoundly challenges people’s perspective.’
– Emma Thompson