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Jamaica’s influence on Britain explored

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Ancestors of these workers in rural Jamaica have helped shape Britain

JAMAICA’S INFLUENCE on Britain’s culture and economy will be explored and celebrated as part of a quarter of a million pound project.

The two-year ‘Hidden Histories’ initiative, based in Camden, north London, will trace the history of the Caribbean island and examine how it has added to the UK’s language, music, education and cuisine.

It has been backed by a £254,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project will culminate in an exhibition – organised by Full Spectrum Productions – charting the history of Jamaica from as far back as Oliver Cromwell’s capture of the island from the Spaniards in 1655, through to the development of Jamaican communities in Britain’s major cities following the arrival of the Windrush in 1948.

Visitors will be able to explore the hidden histories of Jamaica and Britain through a rare collection of artefacts, oral histories, paintings and photographs, providing a cultural reference for the latest generation of British Jamaicans.

Lorna Holder, managing director of Full Spectrum Productions, said: “By identifying and seeking out hidden histories of Jamaican contributions to the culture and economy of Britain, this project will establish a legacy that future generations can explore and expand upon.”


LEGACY: A bust of Mary Seacole by George ‘Fowokan’ Kelly

The collection will go on display at the Oxo Gallery, in Southwark, before touring New Art Exchange in Nottingham and The Drum in Birmingham in 2015.

Sue Bowers, head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “This fascinating project will unearth valuable information about the history of Jamaicans living in London and across the UK whilst bringing alive our understanding of five decades of their influence on British culture. It will give many opportunities for people of all ages to get involved helping to preserve stories of this distinctive cultural identity for the future.”

FINDINGS

The project’s findings will be used in secondary schools in the London boroughs of large Jamaican populations – Brent, Camden, Lambeth and Southwark – to inform subjects on the national curriculum.

For example, pupils will learn about the contributions of Jamaican sculptor Fowokan George Kelly to art and design in the UK, in particular how his piece Meditations Beneath Duppy Cherry Tree explored the nature of myths and legends.

 

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