About Dream Landings

Sweet dreams were on display at John Lewis in October 2006, at an exhibition of decorated pillowcases on the theme of the dreams and aspirations of people arriving in Britain.

Pillowcases from the Dream Landings exhibition by Benjamin Oppong-Danquah
Dream Landings was sponsored by the Arts & Business New Partners scheme and John Lewis Watford

There was plenty of pillow talk amongst customers and partners in John Lewis Watford in October 2006 as an exhibition of pillowcases decorated by artists from across the UK and displayed on beds in the linens department, was opened in the branch.

The fifteen pairs and three single pillowcases, which represented the dreams and aspirations of individuals and families arriving in Britain over time, were part of an exhibition called Dream Landings.

Curator, Jolanta Jagiello, who regularly displays public art exhibitions primarily in non-gallery settings, approached Sir Stuart Hampson, the chairman of John Lewis, with the idea of using the Watford branch for her Dream Landings project.

The recently refurbished branch, which has a large linens department, was an ideal space for Jolanta’s project and beautiful displays of furniture and linens inspired her to create the exhibition which was supported by Arts & Business East and Watford Borough Council..

It was the first time that the department store has used its selling floor to display visual art.

Advertising publicly for people to contribute to her exhibition, Jolanta began to collect pillow cases from Polish, Nigerian, Ghanian, Chinese, Japanese, South African and Asian, SriLankan, Jewish, Croatian, Serb, Bangladeshi, Bengali, Afro-Caribbean and Greek artists, all of whom had captured very personal aspirations, thoughts and dreams about immigrating to the UK based on their own or their families experiences, onto their pillowcases using a range of creative techniques.

A pillowcase designed by Benjamin Oppong-Danquah, now living in Watford, was a typical example of the imagination which has gone into creating this exhibition and featured his interpretation of a family arriving in the UK for the first time.

Another pillow design featured a book embedded into the pillow which tells the story of its artists experience of coming to the UK.

When you rested your head on one of the pillows in the exhibition you could hear a recorded narrative from the father of the artist from Greece who talks of his experiences arriving in Britain.

Jolanta, whose own display of her father’s experiences immigrating from Poland to the UK after the war, explained: “I decided to pitch my plan to John Lewis after meeting Sir Stuart Hampson.

“I wanted to do something connected with the dreams that people might have when travelling from their home countries to this country and I decided a wonderful way to portray these aspirations could be through the design on a pillow case as these are the places you rest your head when you dream.

“One pillow case tends to be about their life before they come to the UK and then the second illustrates their dreams after they have spent time here.

“I had looked at different department stores and decided the Watford store was perfect so I prepared a portfolio and spoke to Sir Stuart who kindly passed the details onto Jenny Tomley the MD.”

She added: “The project brief, which I picked to take place during Black History Month, was widened to include any sort of immigration, migration and movement of people to the UK through the decades.

“We are covering all the communities who live in the Watford area and using a customer base to get art to an audience who may not usually go to visit a gallery or exhibit.

Managing director of John Lewis, Jenny Tomley said: “This project is a unique and exciting way to bring art to the local community and we are delighted to have been chosen to take part.

“The creativity which has gone into producing these designs is simply stunning and we have been privileged to share in the project and learn more about the Watford communities which these artists represent.

“We are pleased to be working with Arts and Business and to have the chance to show off these wonderful designs in a newly refurbished branch which creates an ideal gallery space.”

Artists, their families and community representatives were invited to attend a special launch event and view the pillows on display.

Latest news – January 2007

The Dream Landings project, nominated by Sarah Priestley of Watford Borough Council, has been short-listed for the 29th Arts & Business Awards:

‘We are delighted to inform you that your partnership has made the short-list in Ogilvy Arts & Business Creativity Award category and the Arts & Business Diversity Award category. Thank you for entering the Awards and congratulations once again. ‘ – Colin Tweedy, Chief Executive, A&B

The Award Ceremony is 8th March 2007 at The Hayward Gallery in the South Bank Centre when the winners will announced.

Latest news – February 2007

More exciting news: the Dream Landings project has been highly commended for a Drawing Inspiration Award 2007.

This page was added on 30/08/2006.

Comments about this page

  • I just visited the site about the Dream Landings project which I participated as an artist and it looks great. Hope more future exhibitions will be sponsored and organised. Thanks to Jolanta and John Lewis for this fantastic project.

    By Benjamin Oppong-Danquah (23/11/2006)

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