A series of ten portraits will go on public display for the first time at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, then moving to the National Portrait Gallery.

Windrush portrait display

Source: © Chloe Cox, Shannon Bono, Derek Fordjour. Photograph: Royal Collection Trust.

Alford Gardner (painted by Chloe Cox), Linda Haye OBE (painted by Shannon Bono) and Professor Sir Godfrey (Geoff) Palmer OBE (painted by Derek Fordjour) are three of the people painted for the new Windrush display.

The display, Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation honours the accomplishments of the Windrush Generation, the name given to the men and women who arrived in Britain on HMT Empire Windrush 75 years ago in June 1948, and the generations who followed.

The portraits were undertaken by Black artists personally selected by His Majesty. A BBC Arts documentary, which follows the creation of the portraits with the sitters and artists, has also been made. 

The remarkable stories of the ten people pictured…

Alford Gardner painted by Chloe Cox. Alford arrived in the UK on HMT Empire Windrush a determined RAF veteran who overcame obstacles to find work as an engineer. 

Linda Haye OBE painted by Shannon Bono. Linda dedicated her life to youth and community services and was the first woman of colour to be a full-time member of the Police Complaints Authority.

Professor Sir Godfrey (Geoff) Palmer OBE painted by Derek Fordjour. Sir Geoff’s degrees in botany and grain science led to major innovations in the brewing industry, and in 1977 Sir Geoff became Scotland’s first Black university professor.

A portrait of Carmen Munroe OBE, one of the Windrush generation, is on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Source: © Sonia Boyce OBE. Photograph: Royal Collection Trust.

A portrait of Carmen Munroe OBE, one of the Windrush generation, is one of ten on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Carmen Munroe OBE portrayed by Sonia Boyce OBE. Carmen made her West End stage debut in 1962, before taking on roles in film and TV and co-founding the Black theatre company Talawa

John (Big John) Richards painted by Deanio X. John, known affectionately to his family and friends as Big John, arrived in London knowing no one. But after a short time, he found his first and only job – working for British Railways (later, British Rail), for over 40 years. 

Gilda Oliver painted by Clifton Powell. Gilda, a former NHS support worker, travelled to Birmingham in 1955 and provided care to both patients and people in her community.

Jessie Stephens MBE painted by Sahara Longe. Arriving in London in 1955, she became a strong and dedicated member of her community, playing important roles in creating a cultural hub and campaigning for better relationships with the police. 

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Source: Unsplash

Visitors to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh will be able to see the series of portraits which will be on display until mid-September before moving to the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Laceta Reid painted by Serge Attukwei Clottey. Laceta’s large, mostly monochromatic mixed-media portrait was inspired by African lifestyle photography. 

Edna Henry painted by Amy Sherald. Edna found life in the UK hard at first – the food was very different, she was not used to the smoke and cold, and she experienced discrimination. 

Delisser Bernard painted by Honor Titus. RAF veteran Delisser stayed at a military hostel before settling in Wolverhampton where he met his future wife Marjorie Wildey at a dance hall. 

The accompanying book

In the foreword to the accompanying book, His Majesty King Charles III wrote: “It is, I believe, crucially important that we should truly see and hear these pioneers.

“I dearly hope, that though we might all be different, every individual, no matter their background, has something unique to contribute to our society in a way that strengthens us all.”

Where can you see the portraits?

They will be on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh until mid-September 2023. They will then be moved to the National Portrait Gallery in London where they will be on display for around six months.