As a major historical mileston, Thursday (June 22) marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush ship in the United Kingdom. That generation of Caribbean immigrants became the namesake of that ship, and their arrival date is now celebrated as Windrush Day.
This migration and subsequent political scandal has impacted individuals and families on both sides of the Atlantic and now is being explored through a new project with visual artists Michael Elliott (Kingston Creative and Mary Evans (John Hansard Gallery).
The project is called ‘Windrush Portraits’, and locally is being managed by Kingston Creative’s international projects lead, curator Susanne Fredricks. Jamaican artist Michael Elliott, who has developed an extensive body of work on this theme, is now on his first visit to the UK to present in an ‘Artists in Conversation’ session at the Windrush 75 International Conference in London, moderated by Dr Kim Marie Spence.
During Michael’s visit, he will meet with Windrush elders, speak with Caribbean cultural organisations and collaborate with British artist Mary Evans as they seek to inform and develop new work that will be created by both artists and show in both countries through this transatlantic artistic collaboration.
Dr. Kim-Marie Spence is a director of the board of Kingston Creative and has played a pivotal role in facilitating the project and enabling the issues of economics, migration policies, identity and culture to be explored by both academics and artists in the UK and Jamaica.
The project partners are the John Hansard Gallery, Arts Council England (ACE), the ROK Hotel, Co-Create Soton, Southampton University and the Southampton City Council. iPrint Jamaica has played a key role, as this artwork is not shown in an art gallery, but in the public realm on physical and digital billboards located in Kingston, Mandeville, Montego Bay and in Southampton, Britain. This enables the project to be an inclusive public art exhibit that anyone in the street can experience and learn about Windrush.
The Windrush 75 Artists in Conversation session takes place at the Park Plaza, London, where guests will hear from Dr Kim Marie Spence, Queen’s University Belfast, Michael Elliott, Kingston Creative and Mary Evans, John Hansard Gallery. Also look out for the exhibition coming to Jamaica and the UK in Black History month, October 2023.