Celebrating Windrush 75 in London
Celebrating Windrush 75 in London
To mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush Day on 22 June 2023, Anize Keers has the latest on the best events happening in London
22 June 2023 marks 75 years since the HMT Empire Windrush arrived in the UK. The ship brought the arrival of hundreds of passengers from the Caribbean to help fill post-war labour shortages and repair the British economy.
Windrush Day has become a key symbol of British history and the 75th anniversary offers the opportunity to celebrate the contribution of the post-war migration from across the Commonwealth which helped build modern-day Britain as we know it. A range of activities including shows, concerts and exhibitions are being hosted in London and across the UK this month to celebrate the anniversary. Here are 10 top picks…
Windrush: A Voyage Through the Generations
Award-winning social-documentary photographer Jim Grover has created a new photo story exhibition exploring how the Windrush Generation live their lives today in the UK. It also continues the stories of people who were featured in Grover’s acclaimed exhibition for Windrush Day’s 70th anniversary in 2018 (see below). This new exhibition will feature 70 colour photographs, including nine themed photo stories narrated with both text and images, many of which follow inspiring female-led narratives. A new photo story of 97-year-old Alford Gardner, one of the two known remaining adult passengers of Empire Windrush, will open the exhibition.
The exhibition will feature a raw display of human emotion from pure joy to great sadness and loss.
Location: Clapham Library. Date: June 1 – September 2 2023
Windrush: Portrait of a Generation
For those of you who missed it in 2018, Jim Grover has brought it back for a timely exhibition at St. John’s Smith Square for just this month, free to visit. This moving exhibition tells the stories of a proud community of first-generation migrants from the Caribbean and how they live a life true to their traditions and heritage in South London. First exhibited in 2018, it was enjoyed by over 20,000 visitors over the course of its successful four runs. The Observer praised the exhibition for being “poignant and intimate… moving and often beautiful”.
Jim Grover said: “As I became increasingly immersed in this project, I realised that I was capturing living history. As this generation passes away, and the younger generations move on, some of these traditions will become lost forever. And so, it felt imperative to document this way of life and to record these stories before it becomes too late.”
Location: St. John’s Smith Square Crypt. Date: June 1 – June 30 2023
Black Heroes Soul Food Café
Celebrating London’s great women of colour on the anniversary of Windrush Day, this evening invites you to enjoy performances, quizzes and an open mic for song and spoken word. With guest DJs Michael Johnson and DJ Elayne, you are invited up off your feet to sing, dance and celebrate. The night will see interviews with fashion designer Mary Martin of London and author Tony Fairweather. A film screening of The Story of Claudia Jones will also play at the event, telling the story of how Trinidadian-born, political activist Claudia Jones worked to become the founder of the West Indian Gazette and the first Caribbean Carnival in 1959 at St. Pancras Town Hall. For a night of laughs, fun and a chance to hear inspiring stories book your tickets here.
Location: Wonderville Haymarket, Piccadilly. Date: June 11 2023
Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture
This new free display features in the museum’s London, Sugar and Slavery Gallery and will tell the underrepresented history of Indian indenture in the British Caribbean and explore Indo-Caribbean culture in London today. The display will feature letters from planter Sir John Gladstone petitioning the government during the transition between enslaved African labour and the start of the Indian Indenture. Also, a range of pictures, jewellery, film, artwork and more will feature to tell the personal stories and memories of London’s Indo-Caribbean community.
Shereen Lafhaj, Curator at the Museum of London said: “As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Windrush this year, Indo + Caribbean is a chance to learn more about Britain’s colonial footprint and the diverse communities from the Caribbean that have enriched our city. Exploitative and often shockingly cruel, Indian indenture was a system that nonetheless produced a unique culture, where individuals found agency to forge a new life. We hope this will be a starting point for people to find out about this lesser-known aspect of our history.”
Location: Museum of London Docklands. Date: May 19 – November 19 2023
Wandsworth Arts Fringe (pictured top)
A packed programme of special events has been announced for the Wandsworth Arts Fringe in celebration of the Windrush anniversary. A concert will be presented by Pegasus Opera at the National Opera Studio on June 9, featuring top classical singers and music by composers of African, Caribbean, and Asian heritage with gospel, spirituals, opera and musical theatre and songs inspired by the black diaspora. The Story of John Archer exhibition will be a must-see presentation of local children’s work telling the story of London’s first black mayor, hosted at Black Heroes Soul Food Café on June 17. For theatre fans, Battersea Arts Centre will host a play on June 22, telling the story of Flip Fraser, who arrived in England from Jamaica when he was only 15 years old and became the first editor of The Voice newspaper and producer of empowering theatre productions celebrating Black History. The story is said to promise music, drama, sorrow, and passion.
Visit https://www.wandsworthfringe.com to browse the full programme of events and book tickets.
Location: Various. Date: June 9 – June 25 2023
Big Docks Street Party & Windrush Day at the Museum of London Docklands
London Docklands turns 20 this summer and to mark the occasion a range of talent and history will be celebrated in an evening of outdoor performances, street food and pop-up bars serving the best local food and drink from rum cocktails to Jamaican patties and filled roti, and pub quizzes. Performers include, Sadie Sinner the Songbird and DJ Sherrine setting the vibe for a soulful mix of blues, jazz, reggae, and funk to dance the night away to. The Maker’s Market will feature hosting a collection of stalls from London’s craft and art lovers. A craft workshop will offer the opportunity for you to make your own carnival-inspired headpiece. Port Royal patties will be there to tempt you with their taste of the Caribbean in their authentic Jamaican street food. The festivities continue June 20, with a night of performances and readings from poets of Caribbean heritage, fusing words, sounds, and dance to explore intergenerational themes of migration, home, and community.
Location: Museum of London Docklands. Date: June 10 2023 & June 20 2023
Mitcham Carnival 2023
After a four-year absence, the beloved Mitcham Carnival is back, and this year will give a special tribute to the Windrush 75th anniversary. With over six hours of free entertainment including a funfair, community stalls and live music and performances, there is something for the whole family to enjoy to celebrate this anniversary. This year will also feature a new Sports and Culture Zone including sports, art, literature, and wellbeing.
Location: Three Kings Piece, Mitcham. Date: June 25 2023
Drop-in Design Wall Art
This creative workshop will be led by designer Tihara Smith for families to create wall art inspired by Caribbean culture. The workshop will teach embroidery skills using fabric and sewing to create symbols inspired by objects from West Indian living rooms and the Museum’s collection. This is a great hands-on cultural learning activity for the whole family to be able to create something to take home to celebrate the Windrush anniversary and marvel at the beauty of the Caribbean culture.
Location: South Kensington. Date: June 18 2023
Homecoming: A Windrush 75 Cabaret
Hosted by Beau Jangles at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the show will star cabaret performers of Caribbean origin. The show pays homage to the sacrifice of the Windrush generation and the hardships they have faced since. The cabaret will show how communities came together to find a home in each other.
Organiser Beau Jangles said: “We celebrate those ancestors who left all they knew and brought their communities here, injecting the UK culture with some much-needed spice and seasoning. It’s impossible to overlook the cultural contribution of our people, whether it be Lover’s Rock, Jungle or Grime, our incomparable food, Carnival, and the patois that peppers the London vocabulary.”
Tickets are available here
Location: Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Kennington Lane. Date: June 22 2023
Windrush 75 Block Party
Bernie Grants Art Centre presents a celebration of the Windrush generation with a full one-day-open-air programme of events including a family party featuring pop-up stalls and arts and crafts, live music, spoken word by local Black talents and a workshop with Reggae Choir. Performances from Dionne Reid and Steppaz are confirmed and with DJs Chantz Dee and Donnie Sunshine on the decks, this will be a lively and cheerful celebration of history. No festival is complete without food and so Black Eats will sell a tasty selection of Caribbean and African food. Booking is required here.
Location: Tottenham Green. Date: June 24 2023
Music at the South Bank Centre
The Southbank Centre will be hosting a special line up from leading British and international musicians as part of the free fortnightly gig series futuretense. Starting at 5.30pm on the Riverside Terrace, enjoy a sundowner whilst listening to an evening of drill, soca and jazz. This will be followed by the award-winning 35 piece band Jazz Jamaica All Stars, joined on vocals by Asward’s Brinsley Forde in the Royal Festival Hall. More info here.
Location: South Bank. Date: June 22, 2023
For a full list of events and all things Windrush 75 see https://www.windrush75.org