To coincide with Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s reopening on Saturday (8 August) visitors will be able to view a new photography exhibition celebrating the contributions of Black healthcare professionals working in the National Health Service.

Here To Stay is an archive of portraits and oral histories of 23 Black nurses and healthcare personnel by documentary photographer Inès Elsa Dalal. Commissioned in 2018 by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, it documents the personal and professional narratives of Windrush Generation pioneers, and those who have followed in their footsteps, highlighting their invaluable contributions to the development of the NHS in Britain.

Being of mixed heritage, Dalal is propelled by her interest in identity, heritage, personal history and collective memory. For the past decade she has been using socially engaged photographic practices and ethical collaborative co-working to counter xenophobia and hostility towards migrants; with a particular focus on combatting anti-Blackness in the UK. During each portrait sitting, audio was recorded to contextualise the participant’s experience in the NHS and their connection with the Windrush Generation.

The exhibition, which will be shown in Wolverhampton for the first time, comprises 23 portraits along with transcripts of discussions between the sitters and the artist. The transcripts will also be available to view on Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s website. 

The voices of ten of the sitters will be heard in the exhibition space as part of a new video work. In addition, a new portrait will reflect on the current context in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak and its impact in the UK. 

Many of the Here To Stay participants have lived or worked in Wolverhampton or the wider West Midlands region, including several members of the Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group. 

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “We are overjoyed that Wolverhampton Art Gallery is reopening and the public can experience the fantastic arts and culture that the city has to offer. 

“This exhibition showcases the great contribution that the Windrush Generation has made to the NHS and the UK, as well as the continuing work that is carried out on a daily basis and which has been seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Visitors will also be able to explore the history of the Windrush Generation and hear their stories throughout the exhibition space.” 
Here To Stay gives a voice to the Black healthcare professionals who were a part of that pioneering generation, and those they inspired to follow in their footsteps within the NHS. 

The exhibition opens on Saturday, August 8, 2020, and will run until Sunday, 10 January, 2021. Wolverhampton Art Gallery will be open as normal: Monday to Saturday (10.30am until 4.30pm) and Sunday (11am until 4pm). Admission is free.

To ensure that your visit is safe for both staff and visitors there are some changes that you will see, such as social distancing, checks on arrival, face covering, hand sanitiser stations and allocated toilets.

A video is available to view at Wolverhampton Arts and Culture to outline what to expect when you visit.