Hackney’s award-winning Windrush Generations Festival returns

Hackney Council is set to confirm a major new artwork for Hackney Town Hall square celebrating the Windrush Generation as the borough’s annual Windrush Generation Festival goes online. 

The winner of the Council’s competition will be announced on Windrush Day, 22 June and after a consultation process which began in 2018, will see Hackney become the first UK borough to present a permanent, public sculpture honouring the Windrush Generation. 

The Windrush Generation is the community of people from Commonwealth countries invited to rebuild Britain after WWII. The new artwork will symbolise gratitude and honour to their contribution to Hackney, and represent the Council’s ongoing commitment to welcoming migrants.

Ahead of the announcement, residents can get involved in a virtual version of the Council’s annual Windrush Generations Festival, which will be available online from 18 June on the new LoveHackney.uk website and Hackney’s Black History Facebook page

Highlights of the festival will include: 

  • The announcement of the Windrush Artwork commission on 22 June. The Council will commission a permanent, public artwork based on three finalist submissions from Windrush community artists. After an extensive consultation process which began in 2018 the decision was made by a panel chaired by Dr Mark Sealy MBE - Director of Hackney’s Autograph gallery and included residents, Windrush campaigners, artists, architects and local councillors with approval from Mayor Philip Glanville. 
  • Songs written and recorded by first-generation Windrush residents with the support of Americana Music Association UK. 
  • We are Windrush - a storytelling project inviting all ages to submit literary recollections of their migration, as well as welcoming tales of identity from the younger generation. Stories will be shared on a free online event hosted by writer Colin Grant - historian and author of Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation, local award-winning poet Raymond Antrobus and Hackney Empire’s Alter Ego spoken word finalist Phoenix. 
  • An exploration into the rich local migrant history from collections within the Hackney Museum and Hackney Archive catalogues. These include rare audio recordings of interviews with Caribbean migrants who worked for the NHS and TFL. 
  • The Real Selfie Project will present Windrush Stories - a book of selfies captured at last year’s Hackney Caribbean Tea Party. 

Other highlights include recipes from Hackney’s Traditional Caribbean Baking Recipes Cookbook, a competition from community partners Windrush19, access to a photography project from artist Franklyn Rodgers taken from a 2018 exhibition at Autograph Gallery, and signposts to Patrick Vernon OBE’s 100 Great Black Britons school competition. 

National Windrush Day is 22 June and will see Global Carnivalz stream an online music event as well as linking to The Windrush Suite - Vortex’s live jazz show hosted by Renell Shaw. The online Festival will also highlight information on how those affected by the Windrush scandal can apply for compensation. 

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources
Cllr Carole Williams, Hackney’s Windrush Lead and Political lead for employment, skills, HR and equalities said: “Acknowledging black history as part of our country’s DNA is vital to building respect and dismantling racism. Honouring the contributions of the Windrush community has never felt more important as we witness a global call for racial equality and see the UK demand compensation for the victims of the Windrush scandal. 

“As we reevaluate the names of our public spaces and statues, I’m encouraged that Hackney will soon be home to a public artwork inspired by the Windrush generation that better reflects Hackney’s heritage and will provide an important, accessible place of reflection for the whole of our community.” 

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources

Thanks to funding from the Government’s Windrush Day Grant Scheme, the Festival is also pleased to announce microgrants to support Hackney community groups wishing to host activities that celebrate their history throughout the year. Email culture@hackney.gov.uk for more information on how to apply. 

Hackney Council was the first local authority in the UK to pass a motion regarding the Windrush Generation, pledging to oppose the criminalisation of Windrush families, celebrate annual Windrush Day and press central Government for a public enquiry and compensation to the victims of the 2018 Windrush scandal. 


Notes for editors: 

The Windrush Generations Festival 2020 can be accessed from 18 June at lovehackney.uk/windrush-generations-festival. Updates will also be shared on Hackney’s Black History Facebook Page: facebook.com/HackneyBlackHistory

This year’s Windrush Generations Festival has been funded with an award of £11,500 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

To take part in the We are Windrush storytelling project enter your story here https://bit.ly/WeAreWindrush or register for a free ticket here. 

Visit hackney.gov.uk/windrush-artwork for more information about the public consultation and artist submissions for the Windrush Artwork. 

For more information on the Council’s commitments to the decriminalisation of Windrush migrants visit the Hackney council website. 

Windrush Generations Festival 2019 was awarded a Hearts For The Arts award for ‘Best Arts Project – Community Cohesion’ as well as global recognition at the Apolitical awards for ‘championing equality’.