The Bailey sisters shown standing by the doorway of their house in Clapham (1970). © Neil Kenlock/Museum of London

Storytelling, poetry and podcasts: how museums are marking Windrush Day this year

Simon Stephens, 22.06.2020
Oral histories among the digital material released for anniversary
Museums and galleries are holding a range of online activities for Windrush Day, which marks the arrival on 22 June 1948 of hundreds of people from the Caribbean at Tilbury Docks in Essex on the Empire Windrush ship. 

The Museum of London has released Windrush Conversations, a selection of unheard oral histories were recorded in 2018. These tell people’s stories of arriving in London and their experience of living in the city. The oral histories form part of the Museum of London’s new online collection of Windrush-related content, which also objects, photos, videos and articles.

“These vivid and lively conversations bring to light the lived experience of different generations of Londoners with Afro-Caribbean heritage, celebrating the contribution of these communities to life in London and highlighting the hardships they, and their family before them, faced as part of their everyday life in Britain,” said Foteini Aravani, the digital curator at the Museum of London.

MuseumAnd, the National Caribbean Heritage Museum, is marking the day with the first instalment of a new book that celebrates the contribution of the Windrush Generation to life in Britain. The book, 70 Objeks & Tings, covers 70 years of Caribbeans in the UK and tells the story of the Windrush Generation and their descendants through everyday objects and experiences.

Catherine Ross, the museum’s founder and director, said: “During our travels across the UK we see and talk to hundreds of people every week. Often, some of the everyday objects and references we talk about and share, the things that Caribbeans aged 40 years and up would say are typically Caribbean, are unrecognisable and unknown to younger generations.

"We hope this book will help them explore aspects of their heritage and culture they may not have discovered before in a fun, intergenerational way, while giving those who lived it a chance to reminisce and retell their stories, keeping our tangible and intangible history alive and at the forefront of our minds.”

The first section of the book covers food and recipes, and is available to read online now. A printed version of the book will be published  in 2021.

Hackney Council announced today that artists Thomas J Price and Veronica Ryan have been commissioned to create two Windrush-related public artworks in the London borough. These will be the first permanent UK public sculptures to celebrate and honour the Windrush generation.They will be unveiled next year at two different locations, including outside the town hall.

The Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, south London, is recognising Windrush Day with a week-long programme of activities. These include storytelling, poetry, podcasts and theatre projects, all under the banner of Windrush Waves 2020.

Autograph, which shares the work of artists who use photography and film to highlight issues of identity, representation, human rights and social justice, is marking Windrush Day by showcasing the work of Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop, who explores issues such as migration and freedom in his work.

Many of the Windrush generation have been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights following a scandal that first emerged in 2017 and exposed a discriminatory immigration system in the UK. Those affected by the scandal are still fighting for justice.

Comments