Thursday, 21 June 2018

Brent's Windrush 70 exhibition to be launched tonight at Willesden Green Library

From Brent Cultural Services:

This summer Brent Culture Service will be marking the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Empire Windrush with an exhibition and a number of themed events.

Windrush 70 – Brent’s Pioneering Windrush Generation traces the historic journey and explores Brent’s Caribbean Heritage through the eyes of its residents. Using a mixture of photographic portraits, stories collected from residents, historic objects and unique artist commissions it celebrates 70 years of the United Kingdom’s Caribbean diaspora.

Intimate portraits of Brent’s Caribbean community by artist and photographer Nadia Nervo offer an insight into their daily lives. Two original poems by Malika Booker narrate the experiences of the community’s first arrival in the ‘Mother Country’.

A commission by Mahogany Carnival Design - made by students from Queens Park Community School, Harlesden Primary School and Alperton High School combines tradition with legacy. An installation of a traditional ‘West Indian’ living room closes the exhibition representing the many homes that have been made in Brent.

Since receiving a master’s degree in Art Communication & Design from the Royal College of Art in 2003, Nervo has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions. Investigating the relationship between photographer and subject, Nervo often works with strangers to explore the nature of how connections are formed.

Zerritha Brown, Cultural Operations Manager and Artistic Director for Windrush 70 said:
It was important to mark the 70th anniversary particularly as Brent has a large Caribbean community. The Caribbean diaspora is present in modern life, with influences evident in fashion, music, dance as well as the world of entertainment, sport and politics, yet still the story of Windrush is not widely known. I wanted the exhibition to provide a platform to showcase the stories of the Windrush generation.

It has been an honour developing Windrush70. We have met some inspirational people and uncovered some truly emotional stories which has highlighted the resilience, pride and courage of the Windrush community who came here to strive for a better life. 
Intern Assistant Project Producer, Kyron Greenwood said:
I already knew quite a bit about Windrush before I began work on the project , I am of Caribbean descent and have a Grandfather who came over to the UK a few years after the Empire Windrush. I am aware though, that a lot of young people, even those who are of Caribbean descent, don’t know much about this history and I think this project is a great way to raise awareness of these moving and interesting stories.
The ‘Windrush’ generation were named from the ship, Empire Windrush, which arrived at the Tilbury docks on 22 June 1948 from the Caribbean. The passengers had been invited to come to Britain to help with the post-war reconstruction. This event is often seen as the beginning of immigration from the Caribbean that would go on to have such a profound and lasting effect on the culture, fashion and music of Britain.

The people interviewed for the Windrush 70 project came here to work in a wide variety of fields. Areas of work included: medicine, transport, industry, music, construction, entertainment, sport, politics and fashion.

One of the oldest participants is 97 year old Mr Rev. Norman Watson Mitchell MBE. He came to Britain from Jamaica in 1955 to work as a Glass Quality Control Inspector. His first home in London was in Forrest Hill where for two years he lived in cramped conditions sharing a house with fifteen other Caribbean migrants, his bedroom was shared with seven other people.

Mr Rev. Mitchell moved to Harlesden in 1957 where he decided to settle as he liked Brent and found the people “social” which reminded him of Jamaica. His family, including his daughter Liz Mitchell who would go on to become an acclaimed reggae singer and member of Boney M, then came over to join him. He still lives in Harlesden and was awarded an MBE for Community Work and Service in 2014.

More details of Mr Rev. Mitchell’s story and those of many other Caribbean migrants can be discovered in the Windrush 70 – Brent’s pioneering Windrush Generation exhibition.

As well as the exhibition Brent Culture Service will be holding a series of Windrush70 events. The highlight will be Windrush Celebration Day on Saturday 23 June 12noon-4pm at the Library at Willesden Green. There will be an afternoon of free events for all ages including: live music from St Michaels and All Angels Steel Orchestra and the Reggae Choir, dance performances from Namron Dance and a specially commissioned dance theatre piece by Impact Dance along with Caribbean themed face painting and craft workshop

The exhibition will be on 21 June – 29 October at the Library at Willesden Green, entrance to the exhibition is free of charge.

Windrush 70 has been funded by Arts Council England with support from the British Library and Reggae choir.

For further information about Windrush 70 and Brent Culture please contact

1 comment:

Trevor said...

I am proud to be able to say that my parents (who are now sadly deceased) were part of the 'windrush generation' that left their place of birth in the carribean and actually lived, worked and raised a family of five in brent.
It wasn't plain sailing for my parents because as sad as it is to say,
a number of white english people were not afraid to show that they were opposed to west india immigrants moving into a London borough such as Brent that was historically occupied by white people.
That gradual change was naturally resisted by a number of people who didn't agree with Brent becoming a multi racial/cultural borough.
The majority of Immigrants from the west indies developed an inner strength which enabled them to settle into a new hostile country and establish themselves as tradesmen,chefs, and nurses.
The Caribbean was a primary source of nurses. As early as 1949, the health and labour ministries launched recruitment campaigns that resulted in thousands of nurses arriving in Britain and being dispersed to hospitals all over the UK.
My father started as a labourer but gradually learned to do plastering which enabled him to earn more money.
My Mother, intended to become an office typist but gave up that ambition after she had her first two children and became an office cleaner.
That was hard work for a woman with 4 young children but true to her nature she got on with it and did her very best to provide for her family.
Office cleaners in the sixties, seventies and eighties didn't earn much money and so there were times when income was limited which created anxiety,stress and tension.
I think that the 'windrush generation' deserve recognition and respect because they managed to survive in a country that generally treated them with contempt in spite of the fact that most west indian immigrants simply wanted to settle down and make a living and perhaps raise a family.
The contempt shown by a number of hardhearted nationalists sadly created a division between white and black people that continues right to thrive down to the present time.
I nevertheless take encouragement from knowing that in spite of the attempts to make my dear parents generation feel unwelcome in Britain,
they managed to survive and the children of that generation would do well to imitate them and not allow nationalism and racism to push them out.