• Angels

Angels awarded Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant


Angels is a collaborative artwork by Laurence Payot that celebrates the courage and optimism of displaced people. From sweet lullabies remembered from childhoods spent in another country, to the things that they makes them feel happy in their new homes, participants from across the UK will create a series of recorded visual and audio portraits reminding us all how we can cope with difficult situations and find strength in the things that comfort us.

The work will consist in a series of video portraits projected on urban, suburban and rural environments, talking to us, by surprise, in the most unexpected places.

Angels is funded by Arts Council, and created in partnerships with Art Reach and Cities of Sanctuary. It will be created in collaboration with refugees and asylum seekers from across the UK.

The initial video portraits will be created between March and May 2019, and presented to Journeys International Festival in Leicester, Portsmouth and Manchester and in three Cities of Sanctuary between August 2019 and March 2020. We are now opening bookings for touring the work in 2020 to share the stories with new audiences and gather more portraits along the way.


In each city where the work is presented, artist Laurence Payot will work with existing groups and/or invite individuals to take part in a workshop session, using engaging and creative activities to generate ideas and content:

–       Participants will be invited to create emotional maps of the world and maps of home using drawing, collage, words and photography.

–       They will engage in group discussions and collective mind-mapping to share tips on how they cope with difficult situations and what helps them be strong.

–       They will create posters of handwritten slogans with advise on how to staying resilient, optimistic and to keep dreaming, exploring different systems of writing through calligraphy.

–       They will be invited to record a message in front of camera, a story or advise that they feel needs to be heard.

–        They will collaborate with the artist to edit the recorded videos.

The messages will form part of a growing collection of video of portraits. They will be projected in the public realm in cities across the UK, reaching thousands of people. They will be recorded in a range of languages, some translated, some not, some only understandable to the minority of people speaking the language in which it is spoken.

The posters and drawings created during the workshop will be written in many languages. Participants will work with the artist to use turn their words into powerful calligraphic messages. These will become limited editions artworks available to purchase online as part of a campaign to support the project.

The initial engagement sessions will take place in Manchester and Leicester, and as we tour the work to new places, we will be able to connect with new organisations, meet new Refugees and Asylum Seekers and grow the archive of stories of the people that we have met along the way.

Below are a few quotes from previous participants working with Laurence Payot on People Pavilion at Glasgow 2018, a mobile choir performance working with choirs from diverse areas of the city. (

“I really enjoyed being a part of it, and the amalgamation and collaboration between different choirs members from different countries all coming together.”

“I loved it when people were coming inside People Pavilion, listening to us. It made me feel like I was famous, I never sang in front of people before.”

“If given the chance I would do this project all over again!” 


The artwork will consist in a series of evening public interventions. The video portraits created during the workshops will be projected onto buildings in cities or suburban areas, or on trees and natural landscapes in parks.

A specially designed projection-booth will consist of a box on wheels with a bright LED projector and sound system. It will be energy-sufficient with its own integrated battery, and mobile. Technical drawings of the installation are available on demand, it is currently being made, and the projector has been tested in urban environment at dusk with great result. Maximum image size will be 6 meter high at dusk, up to 10 meter high at night.

The mobile nature of the system will allow us to explore interesting ways to integrate portraits within the environment, using inventive techniques such as side-on or multiple-layer projections. It will allow us to be site-responsive and playful with each chosen location, giving each presentation a different aesthetic and different feel.

When projected on uneven surfaces, these angelic and ephemeral apparitions will appear as abstract splashes of colour, until the viewer faces them front-on. This will encourage people to stand together and exchange ideas, sparking much needed debates around immigration, and the blurring of home and borders.