Beyond Windrush: What's been happening?

Tue 19 June 2018

Since our official launch at the beginning of May, our Beyond Windrush season has been a source of discussion and delight. Its thought-provoking, yet uplifting, content has included exhibitions by highly-acclaimed Birmingham based photographer Andrew Jackson, veteran photo-journalist and historian Vanley Burke, the late beauty pageant photographer Raphael Albert, sculptural artist Sonia E. Barrett and CARISCC. 

There have been performances by Phoenix Dance Company, Steel & Strings, and some irresistible rum tasting with TV’s Ian Burrell. It’s been a real celebration of the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush from the Caribbean, through art, dance, photography, music and free events for all the family. (And we still have our season finale of spoken word and song to come... the wonderful Reggae Women will be performing here on 7 July).

‘Beyond Windrush’ was officially opened on Friday May 4th by MAC's Chief Executive and Artistic Director Deborah Kermode; guests included Roger Godsiff, MP for Birmingham Hall Green; Dr Beverly Lindsay, Vice Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands (pictured below) who also gave a keynote speech, and board members of the John Feeney Charitable Trust.

Photographer Andrew Jackson’s exhibition about people and places in Jamaica - From A Small Island – has been displayed in MAC’s First Floor Gallery and will be on show for the duration of the season, until 8 July. This very personal and moving exhibition is a showcase of photographs exploring memory, family and the psychological impact of migration on first, second and third generations of migrants from Jamaica, through a series of beautiful images shot mainly in Jamaica and Dudley. It’s been attracting many visitors, including poet Benjamin Zephaniah who popped in one day to meet the artist (pictured above) and admire his work.

Vanley Burke, probably Birmingham’s best known photo-journalist and historian, has had a thrilling series of colour photos displayed on our windows. 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 work 5000 Miles and 70 Years, a collage of Caribbean migration and settlement, has been displayed on the Terrace Gallery wall, transforming our venue into a vibrant space.

The late photographer Raphael Albert’s black and white photographs of beauty pageants in the 1960s and 1970s together with his documentation of Caribbean communities in London throughout his life have been on show in MAC’s Arena gallery in the Autograph ABP touring exhibition, Miss Black & Beautiful.

Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity is a research project and art exhibition on display in The Hub, showing a mix of sculpture, digital projections, film clips and multimedia works by contemporary visual artists of Caribbean descent.

Other events that have taken place as part of the programme have included a rum-tasting evening with global rum ambassador Ian Burrell, the Heaux Noire takeover, a workshop led by young black multi-disciplinary womxn artists in response to the work of our Beyond Windrush exhibitions, and the Beyond Windrush Seminar Day, which saw a fantastic line-up of artists and scholars discuss the art, artists and social histories inspired by the exhibitions, run in partnership with the Centre for Critical Studies Research: Black Studies Department, Birmingham City University.

We’ve also hosted Windrush for Families, a series of workshops over May half-term including Steel and Strings, a Carnival Workshop and Poetry Tree with Sue Brown and Tina Pringle-Hamilton.

And who could forget the wonderful performances by Phoenix Dance Theatre in Windrush: Movement of the People? Sharon Watson’s thrilling dance piece wowed our packed-out audiences with a lively celebration of the rise of multicultural Britain after the arrival of SS Empire Windrush, featuring an uplifting soundtrack of calypso, jazz, blues, gospel and reggae that made us all want to get on our feet and dance.  

MAC gratefully thanks Arts Council England, the Players of People's Postcode Lottery, The Mill Dam Trust, The John Feeney Charitable Trust and The Roughley Trust for their generous financial support. With thanks to Autograph ABP and Light Work.