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Leading church figures unite for Windrush exhibit

KEY: Reverend Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett and Reverend Kit Gunasekera of St James, Clapham

CHURCH LEADERS Reverend Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett of St John’s Angell Town and Reverend Kit Gunasekera of St James, Clapham have united to present a photographic exhibition from award-winning social documentary photographer Jim Grover that explores the Windrush generation and the black experience here in the UK.

Hosted in their respective churches, the exhibit showcases all the elements of the Windrush generations’ daily community lives, and pays homage to a generation during a year that has celebrated its 70th anniversary whilst fighting the challenges faced during the Windrush scandal.

“In the year that we are marking that symbolic journey of the Windrush Generation, to have this exhibition is a great way to say thank you for coming,” said Reverend Mallett.

Speaking on the genesis of the exhibition, Reverend Gunasekera recalled the turning point where photographer Jim Grover decided to take on this project. He said: “It began when Jim was invited by another member of our church for a dominoes evening. As he was there taking photos, I think he realised there was a bigger picture and that there is more to be photographed.

“Jim began to meet different people and develop various themes around the images, from nine nights, customs, to faith and family and that’s how it began for him,” recalled Gunasekera.


DOCUMENTING HISTORY: (Photo credit Jim Grover)

The exhibits' placement in both Brixton and Clapham signifies a homecoming, as many of the Windrush generation first settled in those very neighbourhoods. “Being a part of St James, it felt natural to come home here as Clapham is a major area as one of the key places were the Windrush generation settled,” said Gunasekera.

The moving exhibit features 80 black and white photographs that’ll hit home for many, and one in particular of Windrush passenger Alford Gardner. “To meet someone on the SS Empire Windrush was amazing. He is 92 years old and you would think he was 72 if that!” said Mallett. “He is jovial, youthful, full of stories about coming over and for me it was like being with a living book, someone who can just tell you his life.”

“And the amazing thing is it was Jim who found Alford,” revealed Mallett. “Alford was living a quite life, and Jim researched until he found this gentleman, and from that Alford has been on the cover of every newspaper and at every Windrush event. If it wasn’t for Jim, we wouldn’t know of this amazing man.”

Beyond images of the people and places that resonate with the Windrush generation, the exhibit features video clips, biographies and goes beyond static pictures on a wall to tell the story of a generation, which defined a nation in an immersive and emotive way.

“These people have been a part of the foundation of post-war Britain and they should be celebrated,” said Barbados-born Mallet. They belong in this place and this time and for generations after that, and that’s what we’re highlighting with this exhibition.”

Windrush: Portrait of a Generation
BRIXTON: ST. JOHN'S ANGELL TOWN CHURCH
Thursday 1st November to Thursday 15th November
Open: Monday-Saturday 2pm-6pm
Admission: FREE. Refreshments

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