History, Her story, Their story, Our Story

2020sepHistory, Her story, Their story, Our Story


Event Details

Challenging questions, inspiring mentoring, real connection… new audiences and content in old establishments… a legacy of collaboration for Gloucester.

With powerful work around race and representation; students’ poems alongside the work of an internationally acclaimed photographer and staggering responses from Gloucester artists, this was the first time many visitors had entered the Gloucester heritage venues for “moving, challenging, uplifting and important work.”

The project was born out of conversations between Fresh Air Foundations, City Voices and Gloucestershire Archives, and reflected their collective objectives:

Vanley Burke, whose iconic images have captured the evolving cultural landscape, social change, and stimulated debate in the UK over 40 years, mentored Gloucester artists Rider Shafique, Thembe Mvula, Elle Bry Thomas, Jusarra Nazare & JPDL.

We worked with three Gloucester schools & communities to ask a simple question – Tell us about the first time you met someone of a different ethnicity to you?, as well as looking at the work of Vanley and the other artists.

Artists presented their own and participants’ work, including an exhibition and spoken word event, in community spaces such as shops, and online as well as in recognised institutions, the Guildhall and the Museum of Gloucester.

The first sharing of the work in progress, with projected photographs, films, and spoken word was astonishing – a new audience reacted viscerally to the images and words shared. It became an active, inclusive conversation, with one audience member commenting:

‘… we have a collective age of 117 years – yet all the way home we were excited about dubstep… astonishing’

The project kept snowballing – the exhibition grew in size and importance and moved from community venues to the key exhibition space in the Museum. It was featured in The Guardian and on the BBC website. Further education and outreach activities were offered – and local services self referred their staff to visit the exhibition.

The comments book was full of responses like:

‘explores the intimate relationship between race and self-representation… a journey of a close interaction between the viewer and artists…… Portraits within barbershops show the overlapping international communities that breathe life into Barton & Tredworth… memories of peoples first encounters with the Windrush generation……remembering the ephemeral and honouring the complexity of collective memories’

The Museum exhibition was supported with the artists and schools leading popular open sessions including ‘Legacies of documentation – Taking Positives from Negatives’ and ‘Schools Event for young people by young people – exploring identity, representation and storytelling’

The Museum commented: “The exhibition changed the Museum audience forever. At one single event for the exhibition we had a diverse crowd of families, new visitors, our existing audience, a variety of class, gender and race. We simply could not have done this work, at this scale and depth without this partnership.It broke down barriers.”

Image Credits – Rider Shafique & Khali Photography (main image), Elle Bry Thomas


Month Long Event (september)

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