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Arrivals + Departures


Arrivals + Departures is a public artwork by artist duo YARA + DAVINA about birth, death and the journey in between

Two boards, one Arrivals and one Departures are situated in the Somerset House courtyard
Arrivals + Departures, YARA + DAVINA, Somerset House. Image by Tom McCaughan in collaboration with the artists.

Taking the recognisable form of a station or airport arrivals and departures board, the artwork invites visitors to share the names of people who have arrived and departed as a way to celebrate a birth or commemorate a death. As the effects of Covid-19, racial injustice and the environmental crisis continue to disrupt communities across the world, this artwork offers a timely platform to engage with birth, life, death, loss and collective grief, through the deeply personal and radical act of naming.

The interactive installation also honours the heritage of Somerset House itself, which was formerly home to the General Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, holding the first comprehensive record of life events for the whole of the population for many generations.

Submit names to the boards online
Wherever you are in the world, you can submit a name to the boards in real time online at and they will appear on the boards in the Somerset House courtyard as well as on the website. The births and deaths do not need to be recent and they can be any person significant to you. You can submit more than one name if you like and you can add a story with the name which will appear in the Stories part of the website.

Submit a name

Free events programme
Integral to the artwork is a public programme of events that engages more deeply with the different themes explored and openly encourages the act of including diverse names that may often be excluded from everyday learnings.

Sunday 13 September at Somerset House
Discussion Space: Death Cafe

12-2pm, free, booking required
An open-air invitation to discuss death and dying in a safe space for sharing understandings, ideas and experiences, with tea and cake. Led by Emma Curtis, Ash Hayhurst and Debi Lewinson-Roberts.

Talk: The Space Between
2.15-2.45pm, free

An informal discussion between Arrivals + Departures artist Davina Drummond from YARA + DAVINA and grief and resilience counsellor Emma Curtis. Join us in the open air, as Davina and Emma discuss the ideas behind the public artwork including how the work responds to the current climate and creates a timely platform to engage with birth, life, death, loss and collective grief, through the personal and potentially political act of naming.
With communication support for BSL users

12-6pm, free, booking required

Bring a story of a loved one or someone you admire and artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer will create a live drawing created of them.

Sunday 20 September
Birth Cafe

2-4pm, free, booking required
An open-air Birth Cafe discussion space, convened by Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, birth activist, midwife, and artist and Amy Dignam, artist and birth activist.

Tuesday 22 September
Artists in conversation online
Online talk, 6-7pm, free
Artist duo YARA + DAVINA discuss their practice and this installation with Somerset House Director Jonathan Reekie. The live talk is not captioned but a captioned version will be available online after the event.
Watch the recording of the talk online

Board takeovers
Each Wednesday, YARA + DAVINA invite a specialist to takeover the installation both in real time and on Somerset House Instagram Stories, exploring themes of including lockdown births, environmental justice, grief, and race and social justice:

  • Laura Godfrey Isaacs, birth activist, midwife and artist – 16 September
  • Suzanne Dhaliwal, climate justice creative and campaigner – 23 September
  • Bilal Nasim, facilitator of grief spaces and men’s work – 30 September
  • Toni Lee, visual anthropologist, filmmaker and community organiser – 7 October
  • Rima Hamid, community organiser, poet and budding DJ from Sudan – 14 October

Arrivals + Departures was due to tour from April 2020 at the following locations and rescheduled dates will be confirmed

Produced by Artsadmin. Supported by Without Walls. Co-commissioned by Freedom Festival Arts Trust (Hull) and Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Artsadmin with support from Create To Connect > Create to Impact through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Publicly funded through Arts Council England. Development supported by the IN SITU platform in the frame of ACT project co-funded through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, Without Walls Blueprint programme and a Seedbed Residency at 101 Outdoor Arts.

Explore the events programme

Somerset House’s courtyard is wheelchair accessible. You can find details about accessible parking, toilets and more on the Somerset House website.

Date and time

10 September – 5 November 2020

Please note
This is now a past event.


Somerset House