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Portrait of Black Britain launches at Manchester Arndale

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Cephas Williams, founder of the Black British Network, has presented the first phase of Portrait of Black Britain at Manchester Arndale, as part of this year’s Manchester International Festival (MIF).

The project brings together a large collection of photographic portraits of Black people living in the UK.

MIF have co-commissioned 116 dynamic images that will be on display during July. The ongoing series will be exhibiting here at the Centre during the festival (1-18 July). Following MIF21, Cephas Williams will seek further commissioners to continue the work and achieve his goal of 1,000 portraits.

Through Portrait of Black Britain, Cephas Williams aims to amplify the contributions made by Black people living in the UK, not only to make more Black people visible but to give the next generation and the wider society a holistic picture of Black achievements in the UK in the 21st century.

Visitors to the Centre can view the portraits in a range of locations, with the display starting outside on the steps opposite Exchange Square, leading inside the Centre to Exchange Court and following the high-level portraits leading up to the Arndale Market.

Cephas Williams said:
“With the world watching and on a stage such as the Manchester International Festival, I do not only aim to introduce my ambition to create the largest portrait series of Black people in Britain ever taken before, but I will be asking a very important question to the world and leaving a very rich and diverse answer for generations to come, that is, ‘What does it actually mean to be Black?’. This is Portrait of Black Britain; this is me taking control of my narrative and asking other Black people to join me in the re-introduction of our presence and stories in the 21st century.”

For more information on Cephas Williams and The Black British Network check out www.cephaswilliams.com

MIF21 runs from 1–18 July 2021. For more details about this year’s programme, visit mif.co.uk