“No-one on that ship thought we’d be leaving home forever, but when my father hugged me on the dockside, for some reason, I knew I’d never see him again. I still see my father; you know, in my mind at least, after all these years. But I can’t see his face. No matter how hard I try.”
– Amy Jackson
From a Small Island is a major new photographic exhibition and publication by Andrew Jackson, opening at the Midland Arts Centre in Birmingham on May 4, 2018. It commemorates the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948 and explores the psychological impacts of migration through first, second and third generations of migrants from Jamaica. What happens when migrants stay and don't leave? What are the consequences? What is the impact of migration from one small island to another?
Jackson’s parents migrated from Jamaica to Britain in 1956, and their story opens connections to history, space and notions of belonging. The exhibition showcases photographs produced both in England and Jamaica, where Jackson has explored how the connection to the island has been shaped by the mythologies of his family and the legacy of colonialism.
As Jackson says, “The experiences of my parents act as a catalyst to explore the political landscape of Britain during the last sixty years, but also the story of Jamaican migration, within a dialogue of race, identity and the global movements of people. These movements cast lives in an arc of what was, what has become and what could have been.”
Also, considering 2018 as the 50th anniversary year of Enoch Powell's infamous Rivers of Blood speech, Jackson’s work raises important questions about belonging, citizenship and nation. It explores the universal desire for home in the face of globalisation, providing essential food for thought in this era of Brexit and both public and political concern over migration.