Arrivals + Departures, YARA + DAVINA

Arrivals + Departures


3 - 26 April 2020

An interactive installation by YARA + DAVINA

Touring May - September: Brighton Festival, Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Milton Keynes International Festival, Freedom Festival Hull

Supported by Without Walls and co-commissioned by Artsadmin, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Freedom Festival Arts Trust (Hull).

Arrivals + Departures is a live interactive public installation about birth, death and the journey in between by artist duo YARA + DAVINA. Taking the recognisable form of a station or airport arrivals and departures board, the artwork invites the public to share the names of people who have arrived and departed as a way to celebrate a birth or commemorate a death.

Capturing the joy and sadness of any arrivals hall or departure lounge, these nostalgic analogue display boards reflect the magnitude of sharing a name. Visitors and passers-by can choose to make their contribution - from the personal to the political - via a live interaction with a steward at the Arrivals + Departures boards or online at Each name is given a presence as it appears on the mechanical flip dot screens – a stark contrast to the fleeting nature of digital LED signs and the instant nature of social media.

Arrivals + Departures is a national touring artwork which will open at Somerset House. Somerest House is the perfect place to premiere the work as it was formerly the nation’s registry office - home to all records of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the UK and archived wills. Located outside the Lancaster Place entrance to Somerset House, the large display boards of Arrivals + Departures will be accessible to huge numbers of passers-by as well as regular visitors to the arts centre. By recording birth and death, the work marks the ebb and flow of life: moments of entry into life, or an exit, the balance between them, and the power of naming.

Arrivals + Departures’ accompanying programme of events, talks and workshops invite the public to engage more deeply with the themes of birth, life and death. Working with celebrants, midwives, ministers and florists, the national touring public programme will explore a wide range of issues associated with both commemorating new life and parenthood, acknowledging our own mortality and grieving - subjects that need to be spoken about more to help us live well. Touring events include Birth and Death Cafes, Death Mindfulness practice, instruction manuals for when you die, Death Euphemism Bingo, and a Last Dance Disco.  They have worked with Emma Curtis, secular minister and psychological therapist specialising in grief and resilience, as a consultant on the public programme and collaborator (including Death Euphemism Bingo).

The artists were inspired to make this work as a result of their experience of motherhood, and their belief that as a society we have become disconnected from talking openly about the effects of birth and death.

Social networks are increasingly the first place where we make these highly personal announcements and present glamorised images of pregnancy and birth, and emotional  revelations about death, but these, so often do not reveal the real lived experiences. With its analogue technology, Arrivals + Departures offers a counterbalance to our flickering, transitory and stress-inducing relationship with social media, giving us a chance to ponder bigger questions and offering moments of reflection.

YARA + DAVINA are artists whose playful and profound work uses accessible formats to engage the public with a broad spectrum of issues. Their powerful artworks are rooted within the everyday, subverting popular culture to explore issues that touch on the human condition.

"We are creating space for naming someone as an acknowledgement, a public moment of reflection, marking people in your life. When we asked our friends and family to start submitting names, we found the simple act of asking them to submit invited them to think about the now, who guides and shapes us? Who has profound effects on us and our own lives? Interestingly these ranged from people naming their children, to old teachers, grannies, pets, environmental activists and mayors. Who knows what the public will submit?’



Notes to editors

About the Public Programme

Integral to the public artwork is a series of free events. Free events include birth and death cafes, death mindfulness practice, instruction manuals for when you die, death euphemism bingo, and a last dance disco.

Participants include - Laura Godfrey Isaacs (birth activist, midwife and artist); Emma Curtis (opera singer, secular minister and therapist specialising in grief and resilience); Rachel Wilson (The Grief Network), Claire MacDonald (Unitarian minister).

Arrivals + Departures will be touring to

Brighton Festival (2 - 11 May)

Norfolk & Norwich Festival (14 - 24 May)

Milton Keynes International Festival (17 – 26 July)

Freedom Festival, Hull (2 – 6 September)

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2020 - dates tbc)


Supported by Without Walls.

Co-commissioned by Freedom Festival Arts Trust (Hull) and Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Artsadmin with support from Create To Connect > Create to Impact through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Publicly funded through Arts Council England.


Yara El-Sherbini and Davina Drummond create art with a focus on engagement and participation. Using familiar formats such as jokes, mini golf, choirs and tattoo parlours, they root their works in the everyday. Their work has been shown at Tate, Venice Biennale, Manchester Art Gallery, Baltic, IKON, National Portrait Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Modern Art Oxford, The RCA, Arnolfini, National Maritime Museum, and the ICA. They are currently working on Kick Off a project with the National Trust that explores women’s football.

Emma Curtis is an Opera Singer, Secular Minister, Grief Counsellor and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist. She describes herself as a singer, minister and therapist, working with CBT, hypnosis, voice, breath, art and ceremony.

About Artsadmin

Artsadmin is a producing organisation, which enables artists to create without boundaries, connecting bold interdisciplinary work with local, national and international audiences. The advisory service supports artists at every stage of their development with free advice and opportunities. In London’s East End, Artsadmin has established Toynbee Studios, a centre for the creation, development and presentation of new work, where new talent is constantly nurtured in the rehearsal, performance and meeting spaces. For more information visit

About Somerset House

London’s working arts centre

Somerset House is London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community. Built on historic foundations, we are situated in the very heart of the capital.

Dedicated to backing progress, championing openness, nurturing creativity and empowering ideas, our cultural programme is ambitious in scope. We insist on relevance, but aren’t afraid of irreverence, and are as keen on entertainment as enrichment. We embrace the biggest issues of our times and are committed to oxygenating new work by emerging artists. Where else can you spend an hour ice-skating while listening to a specially commissioned sound piece by a cutting-edge artist?

It is this creative tension—the way we harness our heritage, put the too-often overlooked on our central stage and use our neo-classical backdrop to showcase ground-breaking contemporary culture—that inspires our programme. Old and new, history and disruption, art and entertainment, high-tech and homemade, combined with the fact that we are home to a constantly shape-shifting working creative community: this is our point of difference. It is what we are proud of. And it is what makes the experience of visiting or working in Somerset House inspiring and energising, urgent and exciting.

About Without Walls

Without Walls is a network of festivals that works with artists to bring fantastic outdoor work to people in towns and cities across the UK. For more information on the work of Without Walls, please visit

Create To Connect> Create To Impact

Create to Connect -> Create to Impact (CtC -> CtI) is a joint effort of sixteen European cultural and research organizations to create impact in the society in terms of change, innovation, empowerment and emancipation through building powerful and long-lasting connections of artists, cultural operators, researchers and audience.