Image17 and Waltham Forest Council launch ‘We Are Here’ Windrush photography project

5 March 2020


Sylvia Joseph - photograph from We Are Here exhibition

Yesterday (Wednesday 4 March 2020), Leader of the Council Cllr Clare Coghill opened ‘We Are Here’, a new photography heritage project from Image17, a collective of photographers based in Waltham Forest, at Vestry House Museum.

Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Vestry House Museum, Waltham Forest Council and Eastside Community Heritage, the project focuses on capturing Waltham Forest’s ‘Windrush’ residents who came to the UK from the Caribbean to create new lives in the borough from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Running from 4 March – 1 November 2020, ‘We Are Here’ will exhibit 50 new photographic portraits alongside over 100 personal family pictures, mementos and oral testimonies, providing a peek into lives lived in the borough. These residents have contributed to the fabric of Waltham Forest in numerous and surprising ways, yet little evidence of this exists in the borough’s archives.  The exhibition uncovers some of these stories which will be archived at Vestry House Museum, available to be shared with all and for posterity.

‘We Are Here’ is the focal point for nine months of activities that celebrate this important unsung generation and marks the 72nd year since the arrival of the Empire Windrush in June 1948. The exhibition also builds upon the legacy of Waltham Forest’s year as the first-ever London Borough of Culture in 2019.

The project incorporates 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. 

Further events will include three curator/artist talks and three themed family days.  A set of dedicated teaching resource materials based on the exhibition is being developed, to be used in Waltham Forest schools.

Commenting on the award, Jo Sealy, lead photographer said: “We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Vestry House Museum, Waltham Forest Council and Eastside Community Heritage.  It enables us to capture and 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 mementoes showing their presence, impact and influence within Waltham Forest.”

Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council said, “After a fantastic year the first-ever London Borough of Culture in 2019, I am so thrilled that Image17 are continuing this legacy by collaborating with local residents and Vestry House Museum for this poignant and unique exhibition. The Windrush generation are pillars in our community, and I’m delighted to be able to support in this celebration.”

For more information on the exhibition, please visit Vestry House Museum’s website.