Social documentary photographer Jim Grover launches his latest latest photo-story exhibition to coincide with the 70th anniversary of ‘Windrush’

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks which carried a Caribbean community to Britain following the war. A landmark moment in the creation of a multi-cultural Britain; the arrival of those first passengers ensured a steady flow of migrants from the Caribbean, often referred to as the ‘Windrush generation’.

You’ve probably picked up on the Windrush story in the news over recent months although it’s probably because of what has now become known as the ‘Windrush scandal’. After some 50 years of living on these shores, the immigration status of those who are part of the Windrush generation has been called into question by the British Government under the hostile environment policy and has seen many being wrongly counted as illegal immigrants.

From: ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’
Peggy, one of Hermine’s daughters, greets Lauren on the stairs in Hermine’s Brixton home on a Friday evening in April.

Like EU citizens who live in Britain now, Windrush migrants have permission to stay under UK rules, but they were told that they needed to prove their eligibility to stay – this is despite an ex-staffer revealing that in 2010 the Home Office destroyed thousands of landing card slips recording Windrush immigrants’ UK arrival dates.

The government has now issued an apology over its treatment of the ‘Windrush generation’ and the political scandal which has led to the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Rudd has also apologised for the “appalling” treatment of Windrush citizens and announced the creation of a team dedicated to ensuring no further citizens are classified as illegal immigrants. She went on to promise none of them will be deported because of lack of paperwork

From: ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’
Stockwell Good Neighbours club was founded in 1974 to provide a community centre for first generation West Indian immigrants. It still meets weekly. Its 60 members are almost all West Indian women aged between 60 and 103.

For a year now the award-winning social documentary photographer Jim Grover has been capturing the lives of London’s Windrush generation. In a photo-essay titled Windrush: Portrait of a Generation, Grover will present a set of 60, predominantly black and white, photographs with accompanying narrative at the gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf on London’s South Bank from 24th May until 10th June 2018.

Each photograph portrays the traditions of the first generation of Caribbean migrants, who settled in south London and are part of its vibrant community. The exhibition leads with an opening portrait and personal story of Alford Gardner, now aged 92 and one of the tiny number of surviving original ‘Windrushers’.

From: ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’
Diane pours rum into her mother’s grave, ‘her final tot’, as part of a traditional Caribbean funeral.

Many of the Windrush generation Grover photographed, now in their late 60s to 90s, still live in Brixton and Clapham in south London, as some of the very first ‘Windrushers’ were accommodated in the underground war shelter at Clapham South and sought their first jobs at the Brixton labour exchange. Over the last ten months, Grover was invited into their homes, clubs, churches, and memorials.

Grover comments: “It’s been such a privilege to spend time hearing such inspiring stories within our local community.” He continues:

I feel it’s so important to document and celebrate the lives and traditions of this remarkable generation.

Also featured are touching personal stories from the Windrush generation based on interviews with Jim Grover, as well as extended photo-stories running as slide shows which bring to life a typical Jamaican funeral, the playing of dominoes and portraits from the members of the Stockwell Good Neighbours Club.

From: ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’
Daphne greets Levi at the regular Monday meeting of the Stockwell Good Neighbours in the Oval Theatre bar. Levi, now 100 and blind, has been a regular since its formation in 1974. He arrived in 1961 from Kingston, Jamaica. Daphne arrived in 1956 from Manchester, Jamaica, at the age of 20.

The exhibition is curated by Katy Barron, senior director at the Michael Hoppen Gallery, and this will be Grover’s second solo exhibition at gallery@oxo. His first, held in 2016, was ‘Of Things Not Seen’ which told the story of a year in the life of a South London priest; it attracted over 7000 visitors, received extensive publicity and has been on tour to several locations across the country, most recently at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival.

 

Windrush: Portrait of a Generation is at gallery@Oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1, 23 May-10 June