Creative Black Country's commissioned work by six artists at six Black Country pubs opens at the Southbank Alchemy festival 2016. The opening night was a huge success with a coach full of Desi Pub landlords and Artist arriving at the Royal Festival Hall in style! The Alchemy festival showcases the talents of Artists from around the world, celebrating the rich cultural relationship between the Indian subcontinent and the UK. Anand and Sra from BCVA displayed 18 portraits taken at The Island Inn and The Sportsman Club both in West Bromwich.
arts council england
As part of Black Country Visual Arts artists Anand Chhabra and Sarvjit Sra have worked closely with first generation migrants of South Asian origin in Wolverhampton. They have created a collection of photographs by carefully selecting and scanning the personal albums of 17 families.
Within the main gallery space (ground floor) the artists have on display 12 recent portraits of migrants that arrived in the 1960’s. The participants are holding some of the earliest images of themselves along with descendants holding images commemorating family members who have passed on since arrival.
The Community Gallery (first floor) houses the collection of scanned black and white images that represent the communities that we have reached as part of our research. The images show a community at social and cultural events in those early days.
Through this method of scanning and taking new photographic portraits the aim of the artists has been to tell a story of what people looked like then and now. We have set out our exhibition to create an imprint on our audience about a group of migrants who put down roots, integrated with life, work and play around them, making a lasting impact to the city.
Going forward our aim is to create an installation called ‘Arrivals Hall’ which will consist of a life size airport luggage conveyor belt carrying the black and white images. This will be a touring installation with an actual rotating conveyor belt with printed images. The moving belt signifies the arrival and onward movement of a people. The installation will include a separate series of current portraits of the participants.
We would like to thank the following for their support during our research: Arts Council England, Multistory, Wolverhampton City Archives, Bantock House Museum, BM Autoparts, Humjoli Ladies Group (Dunstall), Kaleidoscope Group (Pennfields), St Chads Ladies Group (Cherry St), Park Village Ladies Group (Park Village).
During our search for photographs and ephemera we came across a document dated 26th April 1963 sent from 'Office of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom'. This is a great example of the type of correspondence that took place at the time of migration in the 1960's.
BCVA teamed up with St Luke's school in Blakenhall Wolverhampton to talk about their "Exodus" project and the installation we want to create with our collection of images. The children had brought in their vintage photographs and talked about why the photographs were meaningful to them.
The workshop included making our own photographs using a Fujifilm Instax camera. The children were amazed with the analogue instant prints, no delete button here ! Some of the children had never seen an instant print !
Overall the workshop was a great success and we felt that the children learned the importance of taking pictures, creating memories and actually handling prints. A big thank you to Clare Williams, Staff and especially the children at St Luke's school.