Somerset House, London
10 September – 5 November 2020


Edmond J. Safra Fountain Courtyard, Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA

Opening hours

Open daily 10.00-19.00

Further information

Event booking

Booking for all events available via Somerset House website - see links in each listing


Opening Weekend

Sunday 13 September

12.00-14.00 Death Cafe
Free, Limited Capacity, Booking Required

An open-air invitation, to join us for tea and cake in the Death Cafe discussion space. Hosted by Emma Curtis, Debi Lewinson-Roberts and Ash Hayhurst.

14:15-14:45 Talk: Arriving + Departing
Free, Limited Capacity, No Booking Required

An informal discussion between Arrivals + Departures artist Davina Drummond and grief and resilience counsellor Emma Curtis.

12:00-18:00 Drawings: of Arrivals and Departures
Free, Limited Capacity, Booking Required

Artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer will listen to your story, before live drawing and writing an ink & brush synthesis of what she has heard.

Takeover - Birth

Wednesday 16 September

Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, birth activist, midwife and artist

Laura will take over the ARRIVALS + DEPARTURES boards on Wednesday 16 September with a focus on birth. She will be inviting the public to celebrate and commemorate important midwives from the past (Departures), as well as recent new babies born during Lockdown (Arrivals).

Birth Cafe

Sunday 20 September

Free, Limited Capacity, Booking Required

Whilst some of us may birth all of us are born. An open-air Birth Cafe discussion space.

Birth Cafe provides a safe, non-judgmental space in which anyone and everyone is welcome to come and talk about their relationship to, and concept of birth, in order to build understanding and respect for its psychosocial, cultural and bodily significance for us all.

As Birth increasingly takes centre stage, through popular TV programmes, celebrity pregnancies and NHS maternity scandals, what should be a momentous event can seem reduced to a procedure or ‘event’ devoid of its wider significance.

Birth Cafe is based on the Death Cafe model, and is a welcoming, inclusive and diverse space. Birth Cafe is convened by Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, birth activist, midwife, and artist.

YARA + DAVINA in Conversation with Jonathan Reekie

Tuesday 22 September

Online Event, No Booking Required

YARA + DAVINA discuss their social practice and how they together developed ARRIVALS + DEPARTURES. In conversation with Somerset House Director Jonathan Reekie, they expand on the timely themes of birth and death and how the current climate has added another dimension to the artwork.

Takeover - Environmental Justice

Wednesday 23 September

Suzanne Dhaliwal, climate justice creative and campaigner, will host a takeover of the Arrivals + Departures boards to honour the ancestors, past and present, of the environmental and climate justice movements who are often left out of the narrative of mainstream activism and green movements. Honouring the names of those, who are often invisible but central to current climate movements, who have emboldened the world to action, is a departure point for us to have a wider discussion about the role of culture & art in the erasure and amplification of climate activists, community organisers and land defenders.

Takeover - Grief

Wednesday 30 September

Bilal Nasim, facilitator of grief-spaces and men's work, will be taking over the boards with a focus on grief and death. He will be inviting the public to name and commemorate people that have died (Departures). We are all carrying grief related to loss. We all know death in some way or another. And yet nowadays, we talk about grief and death less and less. Via this departure board, Bilal will provide a much-needed online space to speak openly about loss and begin tending to our grief.

Racial + Social Justice

Wednesday 7th October

Toni Lee is a community organiser, visual anthropologist, and filmmaker, who will be host a takeover that will address how Black death is not contained to a state of emergency, but upholds a status quo which governs ideas of worth, and entitlement to life and death. Toni invites us to look at State violence and police brutality as enduring wounds in our society, which force us to consider what due process can help give a person both a fulfilled life and a fair death. They also asks how public mourning can provide a valve for the attritional trauma experienced by black people globally, and consider how we can attempt to heal the traumatic relationships we develop with the society which surrounds us.

Toni is a member of KIN, an initiative aiming to bring black activists and organisers together from across the UK.

Takeover - Racial + Social Justice

Wednesday 14th October

Rima Hamid is a community organiser, poet, resident artist at A4 Sounds Dublin, and budding DJ from Sudan. Rima’s takeover will focus on those killed during the Khartoum Massacre, June 3rd 2019, in which they say “Their names will, and must be elevated”. This durational takeover, in which 104 victims are named, honours each individual life lost, invites the public to mark victims of systemic tyranny worldwide.

Rima is a member of KIN, an initiative aiming to bring black activists and organisers together from across the UK.

Event Contributors

Emma Curtis is both consultant and collaborator for the Arrivals + Departures public programme. She combines her 30-year career as an operatic contralto soloist with being an award-winning secular minister, grief counsellor and psychological therapist. She is the CEO of Ceremony Matters providing advanced training to funeral celebrants and has a grief and resiliency practice in London’s West End.

> @secularminster

Ash Hayhurst is the author of ‘Making informed choices when planning a funeral – a guide for queer people’ and has written articles for the Funeral Service Journal and ICCM journal. Before becoming a funeral arranger, Ash volunteered with LGBT+ charities Stonewall Housing and Educate & Celebrate helping to develop workshops and resources for young people.

Debi Lewinson-Roberts is a Funeral Celebrant who has bespoke insight and experiential knowledge of African-Caribbean funeral practices. Her working knowledge of diverse cultural and religious practices enables her to work with families on a deeper and more meaningful level. Debi has a background in education, training & development and not-for-profit management and is a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants.

Sophie Herxheimer is an artist and poet. Her work has been shown at Tate Modern, at her local allotments and on a 48 metre hoarding along the sea front at Margate. She has held residencies for TfL, Museum of Liverpool, and The National Maritime Museum. Her collection Velkom to Inklandt (Short Books 2017) was an Observer book of the month and a Sunday Times Book of the Year. Her latest book is 60 Lovers to Make and Do (Henningham Family Press, 2019). She was a Hawthornden Fellow in 2019, and has recently returned from a six month residency in California.

> @SophieherX

Laura Godfrey-Isaacs aspires to bring her knowledge and experience in the arts together with midwifery to bring fresh interdisciplinary perspectives to inform birth education, practice, policy and research.

She regularly presents at conferences, writes and blogs about birth. She also creates interdisciplinary projects and campaigns, such as Maternal Journal which supports mental health and well-being through creative journaling.

She is Ambassador for Proceate Projects, Co-Chair of the Women’s Equality Party’s Health Committee, Board Advisor of The International Forum for Wellbeing in Pregnancy, and member of the Thought Leadership Group at the NMC reviewing midwifery education standards.

> @godfrey_isaacs
> Birth, Art and Culture Blog

Suzanne Dhaliwal is an artist, activist and campaigner, working on climate justice, indigenous rights and mining issues, listed as one of the most popular voices on the Environment in 2018 by the Evening Standard. She is founder of the UK Tar Sands Network, which has worked for over a decade to campaign against corporations and financial institutions invested in the highly polluting Alberta Tar Sands.

Suzanne has led high impact creative divestment campaigns to shift the insurance sector from underwriting coal and tar sands projects & artistic interventions to highlight environmental injustice of corporations including Shell & BP in the Niger Delta, Gulf Coast and the Arctic. She has been working to amplify the voices of indigenous delegations at the international climate negotiations and centre the voices of Indigenous, Black and POC voices in the climate movement internationally. She currently works as an artist, producer-writer, lecturer, anti-oppression trainer and completed a research fellow at the University of Brighton examining race, media, art and climate justice and as a media consultant with multiple partners including Indigenous Climate Action, and Indigenous Environmental Network.
> @zoozanne
> @_suzannedhaliwal

Bilal Nasim is a men’s- and mixed-group facilitator and trainer exploring what it means to be alive and our relationship with death. He holds grief-tending workshops which provide the space to express and be witnessed in our grief, drawing on the practices, rituals and teachings of elders including Sophy Banks, Jeremy Thres, Joanna Macy, Martin Prechtel, Francis Weller, Maeve Gavin and others. He holds workshops on death, taking an embodied approach to cultivating a nourishing and ongoing relationship with the awareness of our own mortality, and regularly hosts Death Cafe’s. He is training as a death doula with Red Tent End of Life Doulas and is a personal resilience trainer with Tough Cookie.

Toni Lee is a visual anthropologist, filmmaker and community organiser based in West Yorkshire. Toni currently uses film to engage with local environmentalist practice, encouraging multi-species placemaking and provincializing environmental justice. They also organise with the Racial Justice Network and Yorkshire Resists coalition, campaigning against intrusive policing and hostile environment policies in the UK.


Rima Hamid is a community organiser, poet, resident artist at A4 Sounds Dublin, and budding DJ from Sudan. Their practice is centred around event planning as a tool for community healing and resistance. They are attempting to revive the lost art of mixtape making, bringing back sonic extensions of our mindset and emotions. As well as playlist curation and podcasting.