Clear Channel Windrush Portraits: A powerful tribute

Alford_WindrushAs the good, the bad and the ugly of the advertising and marketing industry wrap up another Cannes Lions, most are no doubt patting themselves on the back for another job well done.

Back in the UK, we are celebrating a rather more meaningful event, with this week marking the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Britain, carrying some of the first passengers from the Caribbean.

Enter no lesser individual than King Charles III, who has joined the celebrations by commissioning nine portraits of the Windrush Generation, brought to life in an out of home campaign by Clear Channel UK.

The sitters for the portraits were selected by the Windrush Portraits Committee, appointed by the King and chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin, along with Paulette Simpson, Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Rudolph Walker.

To celebrate the anniversary, Clear Channel will be displaying the portraits on digital screens around the UK over the next two weeks, after which they will move to the National Portrait Gallery in October as part of the Royal Collection.

They were undertaken by Black artists personally selected by Charlie-boy. The sitters are all in their 80s and 90s, and the intention is to educate the younger generation about their stories and to acknowledge the tremendous impact the Windrush Generation has had on the UK.

They are Delisser Bernard by artist Honor Titus; Alford Gardner by artist Chloe Cox; Linda Haye, OBE by artist Shannon Bono; Edna Henry by artist Amy Sherald; Carmen Esme Munroe, OBE by artist Sonia Boyce OBE, RA; Gilda Oliver by artist Clifton Powell; Professor Sir Godfrey (Geoff) Palmer, OBE, CD by artist Derek Fordjour; Laceta Reid by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey; John (Big John) Richards by artist Deanio X; and Jessie Stephens, MBE, SLPM by artist Sahara Longe.

And, to be fair, it is not that often we get to quote actual royalty in this august publication but this is what the King had to say: “It is, I believe, crucially important that we should truly see and hear these pioneers who stepped off the Empire Windrush at Tilbury in June 1948 – only a few months before I was born – and those who followed over the decades, to recognise and celebrate the immeasurable difference that they, their children and their grandchildren have made to this country.”

Paulette Simpson added: “We proudly honour the Windrush Generation’s profound contributions and enduring legacy with this nationwide campaign. These nine portraits, lovingly crafted by Black artists, serve as a powerful tribute to the extraordinary individuals who help shape our nation.

“As their portraits grace digital screens across the UK, we hope to educate and inspire future generations whilst celebrating the rich tapestry of cultures that define our society.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

The fact is that this country owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Windrush Generation, whose influence has been felt across every facet of British society, from music, media, language and literature to cuisine, carnivals and entertainment.

In the face of the outrageous Windrush Scandal, we need to ensure we recognise the contribution Black people have made to all our lives and these portraits are just part of a much-needed wider programme to educate everyone on their significance.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A ‘punky reggae party’ 10 out of 10

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