The work is initiated by ArtHouse Jersey’s ‘Home’ residency which aim was to explore and celebrate Jersey’s Polish, Portuguese and Romanian communities.

In shaping this artwork, Gabriel engaged with artists in residency, Natalia Kalicki (Poland), Cliff Andrade (Portugal), and Dana Olarescu (Romania). Through meaningful interactions, Gabriel absorbed their research and findings, his aim was to find a common thread that weaves a collective shared experiences in the form of a public artwork.

Title: Home

Extra: Art House Jersey open call: Supported by Woodstreet Walls

Location: St Helier, Jersey, UK


The artwork depicts an image of a celebration. A celebration of the attitude of a resilient demographic who are hard-working and investing in a brighter future whilst remaining optimistic. The image of a celebration with seven from the Madeiran, Polish and Romanian communities, depicting a less than ideal and slightly claustrophobic atmosphere. The image aims to give insight into the sacrifices so many people choose to make in order to make Jersey their home. A birthday cake with 7 candles, can be interpreted as either a celebration of a year closer to being ‘fully qualified’ (meaning the housing market is one year closer), or a reflection of the experience of the many people who left their children in their home countries to be raised by relatives, leaving the audience to decide.

Background: Achieving full qualification in Jersey implies gaining the right to reside and work freely in the region. During the initial five years, certain job sector restrictions apply, limiting the range of employment opportunities. Upon completing the entire ten-year qualification period, additional constraints regarding residential restraints are also lifted. It’s important to note that leaving Jersey for a consecutive period resets the ten-year residency pathway, emphasising the need for continuous presence to fulfil the qualification requirements.

Gabriel was deeply moved by poignant narratives, recording a series of interviews that included the story of a Portuguese woman. She recounted her childhood in Madeira, where her parents made the challenging decision to work in Jersey, leaving her behind. Another interviewee, a Romanian man, shared his current struggle, detailing his separation from his wife and two-year-old daughter. This separation stemmed from the housing challenges in Jersey, compounded by a prevailing bias against housing families and pets.

Artist Gabriel Pitcher expressed his astonishment, saying, “I was struck by the realisation that certain landlords maintained a policy of prohibiting children and pets in a compact housing market. In a setting where available accommodation is often linked to jobs during the unqualified years, these stipulations had a profound impact. This aspect resonated deeply because, for many individuals, accepting a job meant contemplating whether to start a family or even endure prolonged periods of separation from their children. The poignant image of a children’s birthday party devoid of actual children stayed with me as a powerful depiction of a dilemma faced by many.”

Although the wall is large, I have tried to make the space they are in feel claustrophobic, a reflection of the serviced rooms and bedsits people live in, but also a comment on the fact that Jersey is a small island. Space is limited and the freedom to live in a comfortable space is quickly vanishing for all, as the housing market becomes out of reach for many.

I have enjoyed visiting Jersey over the last six months, meeting both some amazing people on the Island, collaborating and listening to the stories of the output of Cliff, Dana and Natalia (Home residency artists), as well as visiting the home where my father spent his early years with my grandparents after the war.”

Q & A's

Q – You were briefed by ArtHouse Jersey and three artists of Poland, Portugal and Romania descent. It was a complex ask. How did you go about distilling all these voices and land on a single, coherent visual?

Listening to so many stories felt quite overwhelming at first, but was an important stage of the project. As I spoke to the artists in residency, my goal was to try to find the common thread between their stories. I quickly realised how hard it was going to be, given the sheer quantity of lived experiences, spanning several decades and including  people with different ambitions and motivations to immigrate.
Initially, I spoke to, Dana and Cliff (artists exploring the Romanian and Portuguese communities) and quickly thought I had found a common theme in the migrant story – the myth of returning to their homeland. However this idea was quickly dismissed as I started to hear differing aspirations, the desire to integrate over the long term and be fully integrated into the local community – particularly by the Polish community. The only experience common to all communities, was the the feeling shared by all first-generation immigrants, the ‘unqualified’ years.  
During that period, I identified a theme which I felt most people could relate to  – a struggle related to family and sacrifice.


The image I created in the end, was a photo I’d set up including members from the three immigrant communities. The image was taken in a bedsit offered by someone from the Romanian community. I hoped the image could be read as one which celebrated another year closer to being qualified, but I also wanted the piece to bring an acknowledgment of the hard journey taken by many who had chosen to be separated from loved ones in order to call Jersey ‘home’.


A children’s party without children present, an acknowledgement of the ‘no children no pets’ restriction adopted by many landlords and the separation endured by the families who weigh up the cost of making Jersey their permanent home, and to the people putting off starting a family because of these constraints.
Q – As with much of your previous work around the world, your work tackles complex issues and creates dialogue around them. Can you tell us a little more about how you believe these conversations can (hopefully) lead to positive change?
I believe that retelling people’s experiences can open a door for dialogue and understanding for many who simply  dont even know they exist. Inherently, I think people want to improve their community and the lives of those around them if they only know how, and given the chance. Lack of information and lack of understanding or awareness, are usually that barrier. These kinds of projects can help to bridge these gaps. For example:
I visited an Art House Jersey exhibition while on the project and whilst interacting with a local artist and explaining the concept behind the mural, her response was, ‘does that even happen?’.


For me as an outsider, I was shocked to hear the different struggles encountered, I can also see that it is something which obviously often  goes unobserved  – so I hope this project can highlight this phenomenon which is a social issue.


Even in my short time in Jersey, I managed to sit down and talk to a Romanian who was suffering depression because his wife and daughter had to go back to Romania indefinitely. Clearly this struggle is still present for some today. Understanding people’s struggles and plight is a very important catalyst for affecting change. However if they remain unseen, and unheard, who is to know?


Ultimately, I hope this artwork creates a dialogue and informs people about challenges individuals still face. I hope it informs for the better the attitudes of landlords as it’s not a political problem, but “a people problem” according to another interviewee I encountered, who was as a child left to be raised in Madeira while her parents did permit work in Jersey.
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