Equalities activist Cephas Williams and property developers Landsec have collaborated to launch ‘Portrait of Black Britain’, a photographic exhibition at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, UK.
‘Portrait of Black Britain is an ambitious project to create the largest collection of photographic portraits of Black people living in the UK.
Created by equalities activist, speaker and campaigner, Cephas Williams, the exhibition celebrates the diversity of the Black community in Britain and their achievements.
On display in one of Europe’s biggest retail destinations, the portraits feature 220 individuals, including members of the local community and are the second instalment of the project.
Landsec’s involvement follows an incident where Williams was wrongly accused of theft by the security team at Bluewater’s House of Fraser. The commercial property firm and the shopping centre’s manager and partial owner have become active allies in creating more inclusive spaces.
Williams aims to grow this collection with future exhibitions in locations across the UK. He is committed to raising awareness about Black representation and delivering long-lasting change to the community.
‘Portrait of Black Britain’ is one example of a project from the Black British Network, an alliance set up in 2020 by Williams to improve the economic prospects of Black people in the UK and dismantle racism.
The Network itself consists of business leaders and their organisations as well as members of the Black community. Founding members include Salesforce, Dechert, EY, Sainsbury’s, Clear Channel and Alfa, whose employees feature in the Bluewater exhibition.
Mark Allan, CEO, Landsec, said: “As a business, we place great importance on inclusivity, enabling our people to bring their true, authentic self to work each day and reflecting the diversity of our customers and guests in the spaces we operate.
“Working with Cephas and his team has given us the opportunity to listen, learn and importantly take action. Portrait of Black Britain is a celebration of individual lives. To have this second instalment launching at Bluewater is a testament to the commitment of our internal teams and the relationships we are building to help drive change.”
Williams, the creator of Portrait of Black Britain, said: “Mark Allan and I met shortly after the incident, and after speaking with him, I believe the commitment to driving significant change alongside myself is meaningful and not insubstantial. When I sat down with Mark, I saw someone who was willing to listen, learn and really commit to the work, accountability and action needed to dismantle systemic racism.
“Launching Portrait of Black Britain at Bluewater is just the start of this relationship, and I’m keen to explore and deliver on other aspects of our joint aspirations for societal reform. Mark and I may not share the same lived experience; however, we have a shared understanding and passion for the change we need to see in this area and as such have become peers of the cause.”
Portrait of Black Britain is on display to members of the public at Bluewater from Monday 1 November until Sunday 14 November 2021.