Bristol’s Caribbean pioneers celebrated in new exhibition

A report by Rema Mukena for The Bristol Post.

An exhibition is taking place which provides a chance to look at portraits of Jamaican migrants who came to Bristol in the 1950s and 60s.

Due to the rule of six, people will not be able to come and see the actual portraits, but they will be able to see a projection of the portraits on the windows of St Pauls Learning Centre.

The projections will run for the next three months, every night from 6pm-9pm – they can be viewed now.

When the photographer, Garfield Mckenzie’s mother passed away five years ago, he realised that artists weren’t documenting generations that came to the UK after the second European war.

In the exhibition he highlights what it means to be a pioneer in the UK and described those photographed as “a traumatised generation which has existed for years.”

He added: “The remarkable thing is that there’s no bitterness in most of them.”

Aged 11, he and his family moved from the Caribbean to Burton-on-Trent and then he moved to Bristol 20-years-ago.

Mr Mckenzie said: “These people are pioneers in the sense that in the Caribbean back in the day, these same people were sold this idea that they were needed in the UK and then when they arrived, they realised they came into an incubator that didn’t want them.

“They had entered into a society of racism and oppression.

“The elders are not held in any esteem in many areas in the world and their importance is diminishing, so, I felt compelled to highlight them.”

Currently, Garfield is only half way through the project and will continue to photograph more Caribbean elders in Bristol.

He hopes to photograph 50 in total.(Image: John Myers)

The project first began last year when Wendy Leo Cque from The Real Photography Company decided to launch the exhibition at Bristol Central Library. But, more recently she decided to bring the exhibition to St Pauls, where many of the elders photographed live.Her team member, Justin Quinnell then had the idea to project the portraits at St Pauls Learning Centre.

The project features many people from the Windrush Generation, including Mrs Hartley who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971.

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