Celebrating a generation

Ed and Jeanette Sealy, part of the Windrush generation
Former Leytonstone residents Ed and Jeanette Sealy were part of the Windrush generation and feature in the upcoming photography exhibition (credit Jo Sealy)

New photography exhibition featuring members of the Windrush generation from Waltham Forest is now open at Vestry House Museum, writes James Cracknell

The Windrush scandal in 2018 led to scores of people being wrongly detained and deported from the UK by the government – eventually leading to the resignation of the home secretary.

Two years later, a photography exhibition in Walthamstow is helping to tell the stories of those who emigrated from the Caribbean to East London in the middle of the 20th Century. We Are Here, created by local photography group Image17, celebrates Waltham Forest’s Windrush residents in 50 contemporary portraits. It goes on display at Vestry House Museum from Thursday 5th March and runs until November.

Bernice Burton, a retired Whipps Cross nurse who emigrated to the UK in 1967 and was made an MBE in 2009 for services to the NHS in East London, told the Echo: “I am very pleased to be part of the exhibition, if it helps raise awareness of Windrush among the population then that is good.

“I think the legacy [of the Windrush generation] is the idea of prevailing against the odds and being ourselves – continuing with our faith and the ethos of family, working hard, and being self-reliant.”

Also included in the exhibition is more than 100 personal family pictures, mementos and oral testimonies, providing a peek into the lives of the Windrush generation, who first began to arrive in Britain after disembarking the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on 21st June 1948.

The project has incorporated work with local primary, secondary and sixth form students to gain oral history training and participate in magazine workshops, which will embed the stories and experiences of this intrepid generation.

A programme of events will include artist talks and themed family days, all held at Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow Village. It is supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, Eastside Community Heritage and Waltham Forest Council.

Jo Sealy, the project’s lead photographer and whose parents Ed and Jeanette feature in the exhibition, said: “We are thrilled to have received this support. It enables us to celebrate these amazing individuals as they are now, while they are still with us, and to create a lasting archive from their personal images and mementos showing their presence, impact and influence within Waltham Forest.”

For further information about We Are Here:
Email hello@weareherewf.org
Twitter @weareherewf
Visit weareherewf.org