Cephas Williams has an aim to take a portrait series of Black people from across the various ally companies we have on board, as well as Black people in the community, in a bid to make more Black people visible across the country. The interest is to crystallize and amplify the contributions of Black British people in today's society and for this to serve as a creative method to not only make more Black people visible but give the next generation and the wider society a holistic picture of what ir means to be Black as well as Black achievements in the UK in the 21st century.
With your support we want to make this the largest collection of photographs of the Black British population ever done.
We will then tour this exhibition. We will initiate a nationwide billboard campaign to further amplify these portraits and the companies these Black people work within / their contribution to society if they run their own business for example.
conceived and created by
The first phase of Portrait of Black Britain was released at the Manchester International Festival in July 2021 and exhibited at the Arndale Centre
I was inspired hearing Cephas talk about how we all need to respond to the Black Lives Matter movement – and his focus on the changes needed here in the UK. As the leader of an arts organisation, I know our sector has a huge part to play in the stories we tell and the questions we ask, but I also know that we need to change ourselves and our structures to truly achieve that impact. Cephas brings an artist’s and an activist’s perspective to institutional change. He is ready to work with and within organisations to help make change happen. He is helping us think differently and do better.
The letter combines humane, loving experience: ‘you have given me the opportunity to see humanity in its purest form at a time of chaos’ with specific and clear guidance for action: ‘In order for us to truly progress we need to have uncomfortable conversations that create tangible solutions.’ We need to hold both of these attitudes together in our hearts and minds as we move forward.
Manchester International Festival, Artistic Director & Chief Executive
Portrait of Black Britain is a creative and impactful exhibition with people at its heart – from the individuals who are featured, to those who are inspired to call for or deliver change as a result. Cephas and the team have done a fantastic job in ensuring the installation remains impactful in such a large, busy space and it really takes visitors on a journey through the Centre, starting on the external steps facing Exchange Square. After a difficult 18 months during the pandemic, visitors to Manchester city centre are seeking meaningful experiences and Portrait of Black Britain offers that as well as encouraging discussion and action in the local community.
Arndale Centre, Director