Today Winterbourne Junior Girls’ School has dedicated the entire day in celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush generation.
HMT Empire Windrush is best remembered today for bringing one of the first large groups of post-war West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom. The ship carried 1027 passengers and two stowaways on a voyage from Jamaica to London in 1948. This epic moment in history is our inspiration today as we embark on a musical, artistic, and dramatical journey through time. Our range of activities pictured and filmed throughout the day have been inspired by the many influentual artists that were part of this generation taking this journey to a new land and a new life.
Steel Drum Greeting
We started the day with the beautiful sound of the Caribbean brought to us by our very own WJGS Steel Drum Band.
Poetry and Drama
The poetry and drama workshop was inspired by “Windrush Child” written by John Agards.
John Agard was born in 1949 in Georgetown, Guyana (then called British Guiana). He moved to England in 1977 when he became a touring lecturer for the Commonwealth Institute to promote a better understanding of Caribbean culture. Over the course of the next 8 years he visited 2,500 schools – and started writing poetry for children. Since then, he has published more than 50 books of poetry for all ages, stories and non fiction, including A Caribbean Dozen which he also co-edited with his wife Grace Nichols.
His collections for young readers include The Young Inferno, a teenage spin on Dante’s Inferno, Einstein, The Girl Who Hated Maths and Hello H20, both illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura. His adult collections include Alternative Anthem and his latest, Playing the Ghost Of Maimonides. His first non-fiction, entitled Book, tells the history of the book in the voice of the book. His awards include the Casa de las Americas Poetry Prize, the Paul Hamlyn Award and the 2012 Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry. His poems Half Caste and Checking Out Me History have been on the GCSE curriculum since 2002. In 2021, he was awarded the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in Sussex.
Colourful Spinning Tops
For the next activity, the girls were tasked with creating some beautifully colourful spinning tops inspired by the many colourful painting created by artist and painter Denzil Forrester.
Born in Grenada in 1956, Denzil Forrester moved to London in 1967. He now lives and works in Cornwall, UK. Forrester received a BA in Fine Art from the Central School of Art, London in 1979 and an MA in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art, London in 1983. He was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire or MBE in December 2020. Forrester received the Morley Fellowship from Morley College, London in 2019; a Harkness Fellowship in New York in 1986-88; and a scholarship by the British School at Rome in 1983-85.
Pulsating with rhythm, the artist’s expressive depictions of dance halls and clubs capture crowds of people moving in unison with the beat of the music. Flashes of vivid colour, gestural brushstrokes and frenetic compositions characterise his work. Forrester explains: “I just wanted to draw movement, action and expression. I was interested in the energy of the crowd, particular dance movements and what the clubbers wore. In these clubs, city life is recreated in essence: sounds, lights, police sirens, bodies pushing and swaying in a smoke-filled room.”
Carnival Head Dresses
The head dresses pictured below, which were worn in our Carnival this afternoon were inspired by the many exotic, tropical flowers found in the Caribbean. The girls did an amazing job in making their head dresses as vibrant as possible.
Printed Fabric Designs
These fabric designs were inspired by the world renowned designer and fashionista Althea McNish.
Althea McNish (1924 – 2020) was amongst the first, if not the first, designer of African-Caribbean descent to achieve international recognition. Her designs injected much-needed colour and life into the post-war fashion and textiles industry from the 1950s onwards.
Dazzling contrasting colours, full of movement and expressive lines, Althea McNish’s designs for furnishing and fashion fabrics captured attention from the moment she graduated. Her designs featured natural imagery drawn from the abundance of tropical flora and fauna from her native Trinidad, and a ‘tropicalised’ interpretation of the British landscape. Her designs also took the form of lively abstract patterns, bursting with energy and visual complexity.
Exotic Fruit Sculptures
Here the girls are creating some wonderfully textured sculptures of some of the more exotic and obscure fruits brought to the UK from the Caribbean. You will find some delicious examples of never before seen fruits such as Pineapples, Bread Fruits, Sour Sop, Guava, Coconut, Yams and many, many more.
Banana, mango, and coconut are undoubtedly the staple fruits from the islands of the Caribbean. With sunshine all year round and just the right amount of rain, these fruits grow in abundance.
Again inspired by Carnival, the girls were tasked with designing their own face masks, which they later wore for the afternoon carnival.
These masks go back to the time of pre-emancipation and still exist in the celebration of Carnival today illustrating how the rituals of Carnival are rooted in history, memory, and ancestry.
All this works to highlight the key role masking played in fighting systems of enslavement.
Windrush Line Art
The girls did very well with this task as it involved great focus and skill. This project involved recreating some of the most famous images taken of the Windrush Generation during the arrival as a line art drawing; however, the tough part was to make sure that your pencil never leaves the page whilst you are creating your line drawing.
One continuous line must be drawn to create your artwork. As you can imagine, this was no easy task, but as always, our girls rose to the challenge and designed some spectacular drawings, which can be seen below.
Hopes and Dreams Book Marks
Our amazing book marks were inspired by the Windrush Monument as it pays tribute to the many people that left the tropical sun and colourful, beautiful wildlife and surroundings of their homeland in the hope for a better life and to fullfil their dreams in a new land.
To complete our amazing day of Windrush 75 festivities, we all came together in the playground to sing a final rendition of Yellow Bird followed by a fabulous Carnival style whole school dance. Happy Windrush Day everybody!