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Day 96, Year of #Mygration: #OUDigitalArchive and Windrush Generation

OU digital archive

By Professor Simon Lee, Professor of Law and Director of the Citizenship and Governance Strategic Research Area at The Open University.

The Windrush generation is much in the news. But the Open University has long been using footage of their arrival in, for instance, Post-Colonial Britain (Archive: BBC and Pathé).

The context in which the programme used this takes students not only to the issue of immigration from Jamaica, but proceeds to explore the contributions to the world of artists, including in the example which immediately follows this BBC and Pathé archive material, an ‘Indian’ artist, actually from Goa. As the programme goes on to explain:

"The arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948, was a key moment in the story of post colonial Britain.

West Indians, some of whom had been doing their bit in the Second World War, returned to take advantage of their citizenship, and seek a better life in the country they'd been fighting for.

Also among the new arrivals were artists from the Commonwealth, eager to join a still small scale arts scene. One of them was Francis Newton Souza.

By the start of the 1960's, Souza was an enormous hit, with the critics and the public. In 1961, the Observer's art critic would preface a review with the words, “Still the leading Indian artist in the West”.

Souza grew up in a Portuguese colony. The Catholic church was a huge influence on Souza as a child, and Souza’s religious paintings can very much be seen within continuing visual traditions that surrounded him as a child. The point is this, it’s not as if Souza was painting Indian paintings in India, and then came over here, and started painting in a western fashion. Growing up in Goa, Souza was surrounded by western religious imagery."

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