A message from Victor Sloan:

I am trying to contact anyone who arrived in Craigavon, Northern Ireland (including Portadown and Lurgan) in 1979, or later, from Vietnam. It would be great if you, or family or friends, could contact me at: mail@victorsloan.com

UPDATE: Many thanks to all who contacted me - very much appreciated! I still hope to hear from others.

UPDATE: 3 December 2014 
The resulting exhibition is in the FE McWilliam Gallery from 5 December until 28 February 2015. See www.femcwilliam.com for details My thanks to all for your valuable input.

See Drift exhibition here



Vietnamese Boat People


A group of Vietnamese Boat people arrived in the new town of Craigavon in County Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1979. They were well cared for by many voluntary charity organisations from the beginning.

However, many were unhappy with the conflict and conditions in Northern Ireland, and soon left to live elsewhere, including England and U.S.A.



Vietnamese Boat People, Moyraverty Community Centre, Craigavon III, silver gelatin print, toner and watercolour, 24cms x 37.5cms, 1984




Vietnamese Boat People, Moyraverty Community Centre, Craigavon II, silver gelatin print, toner and watercolour, 24cms x 37.5cms, 1984



Vietnamese Boat People, Moyraverty Community Centre, Craigavon I, silver gelatin print, toner and watercolour, 24cms x 37.5cms, 1984



Vietnamese Boat People, Moyraverty Community Centre, Craigavon IV, silver gelatin print, toner and watercolour, 24cms x 37.5cms, 1984


Images of some of the Vietnamese refugees at a particularly grim social evening in the community centre suggest disorientated individuals trapped in a soulless municipal environment. The tone is indicative of their fate. It hardly seems surprising that none of the Vietnamese Boat People chose to remain in Craigavon. They have all dispersed elsewhere.

Extract from A Broken Surface: Victor Sloan's Photographic Work by Aidan Dunne in Victor Sloan: Selected Works 1980-2000, published by Ormeau Baths Gallery and Orchard Gallery, January, 2001


© Victor Sloan


© Victor Sloan



© Victor Sloan

© Victor Sloan


© Victor Sloan


© Victor Sloan


© Victor Sloan


© Victor Sloan


…clearly shows a social conscience at work, made evident again in another earlier series, Vietnamese Boat People. The photographs, mainly silver gelatin prints treated with toner and watercolour, are dark, eerie, sometimes disturbing. Displacement and isolation are again to the fore here as Sloan takes us on a journey through the new home - Craigavon - of the immigrants.
Another exhibition, Craigavon, explores this further, using the notion of the new town to explore questions of identity and belonging in the town planners’ dream gone wrong.

Extract from Ambiguous Images by Mairtín Crawford in Fortnight, Belfast, March, 2001





Over recent years the majority of immigrants to Northern Ireland, and to Craigavon, have tended to come from the rural area of Hong Kong, the New Territories. Unlike the affluent island of Hong Kong this area has remained underdeveloped economically, socially and educationally. Subjected to little Western influence the people from the New Territories have always held strong traditional Chinese attitudes. In many cases they had not acquired a command of English as a second language before arriving in places like Northern Ireland. Not surprisingly they found it difficult adjusting to their new surroundings. They did however, adapt much more successfully than many of the ethnic Chinese who came to Craigavon from Vietnam during the late 1970s and early 1980s. These became known as ‘the boat people’ because of their often tragic attempts to flee from Vietnam following the departure of the Americans.

© Victor Sloan

Difficulty with the English language certainly made it much more difficult for the immigrants to integrate successfully into society in Craigavon. The Runnymeade Trust Report, The Chinese Community in Britain, points to this factor as being at the root of most of the problems experienced by Chinese immigrants to Britain. Underachievement at school, failure to obtain adequate employment, racial discrimination and racial harassment, all of these things tend to be mooted in language difficulties.


© Victor Sloan

Many efforts were made to ensure that immigrants were made to feel welcome. Going back to my own experiences, I attended a number of meetings with the Vietnamese community in Craigavon in an effort to ensure ease of access to library and information facilities. The fact that these largely came to nought may say as much about our inability to communicate effectively, as about the failure of the Vietnamese community to take advantage of what was being offered. Other people in the local Public Services had similar experiences. The bottom line, however, was that the immigrants to Craigavon felt increasingly vulnerable and isolated. Over thirty years later we have to acknowledge the continuing existence of a prevailing culturally racist attitude in Northern Ireland, an attitude that insists “there is no racism here!”

© Victor Sloan

Evidence would suggest otherwise. Craigavon is no worse than anywhere in Northern Ireland, but it is certainly no better. Depressingly, accordingly to a 1997 study by the University of Ulster Ethnic Minorities in Northern Ireland, the vast majority of people interviewed from the Chinese community thought that racism and racial violence would increase as paramilitary violence decreased.

© Victor Sloan

Extract from Craigavon by Gerry Burns in Victor Sloan: Selected Works 1980-2000, published by Ormeau Baths Gallery and Orchard Gallery, January, 2001


© Victor Sloan




© Victor Sloan




© Victor Sloan




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