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Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain

Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain

The Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series continues with Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain, a new photography exhibition exploring identity and immigration in modern Britain.


Featuring stills and moving image, Kaleidoscope showcases the works of ten photographers born or based in Britain, many with family origins abroad including Hong Kong, India, Jamaica and Russia, and explores what it means and how it feels to live as an immigrant, or a descendent of immigrants, in Britain today. Co-curated by writer, Ekow Eshun and Creative Director, Darrell Vydelingum the exhibition forms a celebration of immigration in everyday life.

Reflecting the multiplicity of voices that together form modern Britain, the exhibition takes individual and often intensely personal experiences to encourage a wider appreciation of the nation’s multiculturalism. The significance of immigrant communities forms a key focus, particularly how they influence the country’s identity, challenged now more than ever.

Featured Artists & Works

Informed by his own history as an illegal immigrant, Seba Kurtis presents Heartbeat, a series of portraits of migrants held at UK detention centres, inspired by the British police’s use of heartbeat detectors to locate people hiding amongst cargo.

Chris Steele-Perkins’ large-scale The New Londoners studies families from each of the 200 UN-recognised countries of the world now living in London; the stories of their origins, and the reasons why they chose to settle in the city.

In Dalston AnatomyLorenzo Vitturi captures the energy in the convergence of different cultures at Ridley Road Market in East London. Combining portrait photography with abstract sculpture comprised of objects collected from the market, Vitturi reflects on the cultural evolution of Ridley Road and its unique combination of international influences.

For The Quiet Town of TiptonMahtab Hussain collaborates with the local South Asian community to capture life in the Sandwell borough following a racist attack on the Kanzul Iman mosque in 2013, offering a voice to those othered by xenophobic attitudes. 

Teresa Eng explores the theme of belonging by documenting the people and places in Elephant & Castle, her home borough in London, offering a first-hand perspective of how second and third generation families view their local community.

Kurt Tong’s photo series The Queen, The Chairman and I is a personal documentation of his family’s journey from Hong Kong to the UK over the last 100 years.

Rhianne Clarke’s Many Rivers to Cross forms a retrospective of her father’s photography of his Caribbean community in 1970s-80s London, discovered only following his death in 2014.

Hetain Patel brings a playful touch to immigration discourse in his film work, The Jump by gathering 17 British Indian family members in his grandmother’s home in Bolton, where he and his relatives have lived since 1967.

Photographer Liz Johnson Artur focuses on the capital in Real…Times, which premiered at the 10th Berlin Biennale 2018, weaving narratives from London’s African diaspora, from the Black Lives Matter activist rallies to sequences from Black female collective, Born N Bread.

Billy Dosanjh’s Year Zero: Black Country transports viewers to 1960s West Midlands. His video work compiles archive newsreel footage with personal testimonies from economic migrants in his hometown of Smethwick, forming a platform for a community underrepresented in mainstream culture.

The Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series is a series of free exhibitions, which profile the work of living artists in one of the most accessible spaces at Somerset House, bringing the public into contact with a diverse and engaging range of creative thinkers. Find out more about the series here.