New exhibition on Windrush generation launching at Wolverhampton art gallery

A report by Jamie Brassington for The Express and Star.

A new exhibition will explore the struggles and achievements of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who settled in Wolverhampton.

Windrush Generation Experiences Online will screen 108 interviews of people, who migrated to the city in the mid-1900s, when it launches at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on October 3.

The interviews, of people from Caribbean descent and other settlers, were carried out at the turn of the 20th century.

It follows the Windrush Scandal, in 2018, where British residents – mainly from Caribbean countries – were wrongly detained, denied legal rights and threatened with deportation.

Patrick Vernon OBE, from Wolverhampton, who led a successful campaign over the scandal, has provided a special introduction to the interviews.

Mr Vernon, 59, campaigned for Windrush victims alongside the late Paulette Wilson, from Wolverhampton, who died in July aged 64.

Interviews in the topics will also cover people’s home countries, their arrival to Britain, housing conditions, employment, religion, education and combatting racism.

Mr Vernon, a social commentator, campaigner and cultural historian, said: “In the context of the recent death and burial of Paulette Wilson as a campaigner for justice for the Windrush generation, this project, in preserving the oral history of this generation, is important.

“Paulette was a national treasure and that is why I am working with the family, local politicians and the community to establish a memorial in Wolverhampton.

“The Windrush generation story is still invisible in Wolverhampton and the Black Country and thus it is important we preserve this legacy.”

The exhibition has been organised by Wolverhampton-based charity Black and Ethnic Minority Experience Foundation.

The charity received funding for the project from the Government through the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

Wolverhampton council is also supporting the project.

Councillor Stephen Simkins, cabinet member for city economy, said: “The council has worked with numerous groups on supporting the Windrush generation and continue to offer support when and where it is needed.

“It was a privilege to work with Paulette, who helped so many in the city too.

“This exhibition makes it possible for these important stories to be told, preserved and have a lasting legacy within the city, and I urge everyone to go and visit it.

The launch of the exhibition will coincide with the start of Black History Month and will run until Sunday, December 20.

To accompany the digitised interviews, Wolverhampton Art Gallery will display a painting called Spirit of the Carnival [1983] by Tam Joseph.

The piece of art illustrates tensions between the police and African-Caribbean communities during the 1970s and 1980s in the UK.

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