“Sheffield city remains my home, where my heart and happy memories reside.”
These are the words of Cher Kheng Lee, who arived in the city from Malaysia in 1981 and has been photographed for Jeremy Abraham’s Arrivals project.
The photographer’s series will be exhibited at Weston Park Museum later this year and he is crowdfunding to have his photograph made into a book.
Jeremy has been taking pictures of Sheffield’s ‘arrivals’ for more than two years.
He started the project while studying for a photography foundation degree at Sheffield College, aged, 60, after he was made redundant from a previous job.
“I wanted the project to be personal and something that could carry on after my course ended. Immigration is always being portrayed negatively in the press and it shouldn’t be. My project isn’t just about asylum seekers, it’s about all people that have come here for whatever reason, from another country and have made Sheffield their home.”
“Immigration has always been a part of our lives. People have come here for decades and have been embedded into the community.”
Jeremy has photographed one person for every year since 1945. It starts with Tanya Schmoller coming from Uruguay in 1945, and Chilean refugee Isilda Lang who, twelve years after fleeing Pinochet, would find herself working for the Red Cross on the day of the Hillsborough disaster and ends with Tareq Al-Khaleeli, who has arrived from Iraq this year.
Alongside the photographs, which are taken in a place significant to them, are the subjects first impressions of the city and the reason they the came to the country.
These reasons range families coming in search of a better life or those seeking asylum from war.
Perhaps the most iconic images is of Pedro Fuentes at Forgemasters.
The Chilean’s fate has always been linked to Sheffield. He told Jeremy as a six-year-old he remembers reading the words ‘Made in Sheffield’ engraved onto his mother’s cutlery.
Years later, working as an engineer in Santiago, the company needed some specialist steel, he recommended buying it from Sheffield.
Then, forced to flee from the Pinochet dictatorship, he came to the UK as a refugee and settled in this very city, where he found a job in a steel mill.
Jeremy said: “It was amazing that he has always been linked to Sheffield in some way. This series is more than just a portraits of 72 people, it is a pattern of migration over the years,
In the 1950s people were coming form the West Indies, then in the late 50s, early 60s it was Pakistan and the 80s it was Somalia. Now its people from right across Europe because of freedom of movement in the EU.”
Jeremy hasn’t quite completed his series yet. He still has a number of years missing.
He said: “I’m still looking for some years, the 40s and 50s are the hardest because their not that young anymore. But I’ve had the privilege to meet some wonderful people and hear their stories.”
To donate to the kickstarter campaign visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1068807782/arrivals-making-sheffield-home