The starting point for moving image installation Wandering Abroad is the life and death of David Oluwale, whose body was pulled out of the River Aire in 1969, but it also serves as an elegy to the experience of the many economic and political migrants who have come to Leeds over the years and continue to do so.
David Oluwale had travelled to England from Nigeria in 1949 with dreams of being an engineer. Arriving in Hull, he was sentenced as a stowaway to a term in Armley Gaol, Leeds; 20 years later he was found drowned in the Aire, having being hounded by local police. The film, featuring Caribbean and West African music from the period, traces Oluwale’s final journey down the river, but also narrates a journey through the city, and through time, resonant with the march of change brought about through the urban development common to many northern post-industrial cities, which often provides little space for new communities to co-exist with the world of commerce.
The moving image installation was made with support from Arts Council England and commissioned by Leeds Art Gallery. Wandering Abroad is accompanied by a 52 pp book with film stills by the artist and texts by Nigel Walsh, Curator of Contemporary Art at Leeds Art Gallery, and author Caryl Phillips.