Non-profit organisation Kingston Creative is partnering with United Kingdom groups John Hansard Gallery, Black History Month South, and Southampton Black Archives to facilitate the collaboration of two contemporary visual artists for a public art campaign nationwide, commemorating the Windrush Generation and giving voice to the subsequent Windrush scandal.
For February 2023, throughout Black History Month in the Caribbean and United States, the project, Windrush Portraits will broadcast the first stage of a nationwide public art exhibition of a transatlantic artistic collaboration with communities in both Kingston, Jamaica and Southampton, UK.
As a ‘public art’ project, Windrush Portraits will transform notions around the historically ‘permanent’ nature of art intended for public consumption, and engage audiences nationwide with digital broadcast, supported by the iPrint Digital Limited billboard network.
Artists Mary Evans (based in the UK) and Michael Elliott (based in Jamaica) will present iconic artworks that highlight the legacy of the Windrush generation and migration on digital billboards across the island of Jamaica.
The artists will subsequently undertake exchange visits to Southampton and Kingston to meet Caribbean communities in Southampton and Windrush returnees in Kingston.
These visits will result in new artworks, created in collaboration with communities that will be presented during October 2023 (Black History Month in the UK) in both Southampton, UK and Kingston, Jamaica.
Michael Elliott’s and Mary Evans’ artworks will explore the personal, political, social and post-colonial legacy of the Empire Windrush and the Windrush Generation of West Indian migrants (as well as their descendants) who arrived in the UK from 1948–1971.
Under the UK government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy from 2009, some members of the Windrush Generation and their families were wrongfully persecuted and deported from the UK and returned to Jamaica.
These returnees often lost their homes, livelihoods, and health because of the UK government’s actions, which has become known as the Windrush scandal.
Windrush Portraits will be further developed through conversations with Caribbean communities in Kingston, Jamaica and Southampton, UK to celebrate the individuals, highlight the injustices, and commemorate the important contribution of the Windrush Generation to the UK’s recovery in the post-war period. Windrush Portraits has been developed in partnership with Kingston Creative, Jamaica and has been supported by iPrint, Jamaica and Rok Hotel Kingston, Jamaica.
Windrush Portraits is part of the programme Co-Creating Public Space, led by John Hansard Gallery, part of the University of Southampton, with funding from Arts Council England, Southampton City Council and GO! Southampton.