Curator Emelia Kenlock gives an overview of how she formulated the ‘building the building takeover’ exhibition at the Black Cultural Archives this year.

Outdoor photographic display in BCA courtyard.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE BLACK CULTURAL ARCHIVES AS THE EXHIBITION SPACE?

Firstly, the Black Cultural Archives is on the historical Windrush Square and is the home of black British heritage, hence why it was the perfect place for the Expectations Exhibition and other project activities. The BCA provides not only a great exhibition space but also supports key parts of the project like archive training and community engagement.

HOW DOES THIS EXHIBITION HELP TELL THE STORY OF THE WINDRUSH GENERATION?

The exhibition tells the story of black people who lived, worked or influenced our community, most of which would have been part of that Windrush generation. Therefore, the exhibition helps to put their experiences in historical context, giving visitors the imagery to match the stories their grandparents may have told them. And for those who are new to these stories, there are photos of fascinating people like ‘Columbus’, a man who was on the Windrush Empire ship in 1948 and was the first person from that group of settlers to gain employment in Britain.

WHAT IMPACT WILL THIS EXHIBITION HAVE ON PEOPLE WHO COME TO VISIT?

The exhibition is a ‘building takeover’ which means the prints are hung in places where visitors would not normally see photographs. The three spaces include the café, which is the challenge space, the learning centre, which is the change space and the meeting room, which is the collaboration space. The idea of bringing the art into these areas was so that people can connect with the heritage in a new and engaging way. The project also aims to educate society on black British history and to allow people to experience archive material that so few people knew about.

(Original article was published on the Black Cultural Archive blog on 18th August 2018)