‘Beyond Windrush’ launches with Vanley Burke and Benjamin Zephaniah
An exhibition and series of events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush, which brought people from the Caribbean to the UK in 1948, has been launched in Birmingham.
‘Beyond Windrush’ was officially opened on Friday (May 4) by MAC Artistic Director Deborah Kermode; guests included Roger Godsiff, MP for Birmingham Hall Green; Dr Beverly Lindsay, Vice Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands who also gave a keynote speech and board members of the John Feeney Charitable Trust.
Highlighting an era of change and co-existing cultures, visitors will be able to enjoy a public programme of exhibitions, events, talks and debates from May to July.
Exhibitions by highly acclaimed Birmingham based photographer Andrew Jackson; veteran photo-journalist and historian Vanley Burke; and the late beauty pageant photographer Raphael Albert Performances by Phoenix Dance Company, Reggae Women, Steel & Strings Rum tasting and masterclass with TV’s Ian Burrell.
Deborah Kermode opened the season:
“The inspiration for Beyond Windrush came about through the commission of a new series of photographs by Andrew Jackson – the telling of his family’s story – which we decided to present at the same time as the 70th year anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush in 1948.
“Our aim was to create a dynamic cross-art season dedicated to Windrush that at its heart celebrated the contribution the Caribbean community has made to the UK. Since the Windrush story isn’t taught in schools and is largely unsung, we speculated if audiences would need us to explain it and whether, in a pre-Brexit world, people would want to ‘look back to look forward’.
“When pernicious stories began to surface about British citizens being denied health care and accommodation and in some cases threatened with deportation, our friends and neighbours whom Benjamin Zephaniah calls ‘the pioneers’ were under attack and the Windrush generation became centre-stage.
“And so here we are – friends and colleagues, gathered to share in the artistic perspectives of real-life experiences seen through the lens of some extraordinary artists telling their very personal stories related to Windrush and beyond. I’m very proud of our Beyond Windrush season, the incredible work done by the team here at MAC and I’m thrilled to present the work of the artists and performers who will be taking part throughout the next two months.”
Photographer Andrew Jackson’s collection of people and places in Jamaica – ‘From A Small Island’ – were displayed in MAC’s Art Gallery and will be on show for the duration of the season.
Vanley Burke, probably Birmingham’s best known photo-journalist and historian, had a thrilling series of colour photos displayed on the windows of the venue; Vanley’s photos span 55 years of photography and document the Caribbean experience; his work is also on show for the duration of the season at Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum. His collage ‘5000 Miles and 70 Years’ was displayed on one wall in the venue.
The late photographer Raphael Albert’s beautiful black and white photographs of beauty pageants in the 1960s and 1970s together with his documentation of Caribbean communities in London throughout his life are on show in MAC’s photo gallery.
‘Beyond Windrush’ runs until July 8th with music, art, photography, workshops at the mac Birmingham. For details, visit: www.macbirmingham.co.uk.