“Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain” Exhibition Features Stories of Immigrants in the U.K.

“Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain” Exhibition Features Stories of Immigrants in the U.K.

Today's immigrants comprise a far larger portion of United Kingdom's population / 1000 Words via Shutterstock


Immigration in the United Kingdom has been very prevalent since 1945. Many of these immigrants came from the former British Empire, especially in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, South Africa, as well as from the Republic of Ireland. There are several reasons for and ways that immigrants enter the country. For instance, some of them seek protection as a refugee under the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, while others come as asylum seekers. 

According to an article by The Guardian, the immigration figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the net migration is at 250,000, increasing from 235,000. Aside from that, the International Passenger Survey reported that India is the top country for people coming to the UK with 11.9% of all immigrants. The figure was followed by Pakistan with 5.8%, Poland with 5.4%, Australia with 5.2%, and China with also 5.2%. 

It has also been reported that the main reason why the UK is prone to immigrants is mostly work-related with 185,000 people migrating to the UK for that reason. This is 22% lower than the peak of 239,000 in June 2008. According to an article by History Extra, the greatest difference between immigration in the past and in recent years is that today's immigrants comprise a far larger portion of the country's population. 

The topic of identity and immigration in modern Britain will be exhibited in the Somerset House in London this coming June 12. The exhibition is a perfect opportunity for people to learn more about the issue and have a better understanding of it. It also explores the relationship of Britain with the rest of the world at a time when it is increasingly complex and uncertain. The show will run until September 8. 

"Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain" Exhibition

Immigrants have long been a presence in the United Kingdom. In the late Middle Ages, there were the Flems and Walloons, followed by European Protestants in the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. Ireland has also contributed to a constant flow of permanent and seasonal laborers since the 17th century, and by the 18th century, England had around 10,000 Africans. Aside from that, the country also received a kaleidoscopic variety of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries including Italians, Germans, and Jews. 

However, immigrants have long been accused of bringing with them strange ideas and habits. For instance, Russian-Jewish immigrants were widely regarded as largely disengaged from British political life, while Irish people were blamed for slum conditions. These kinds of statements aimed to make immigrants appear dangerous and divisive. Fortunately, their stories will be showcased in an exhibition entitled "Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain." 

According to an article by It's Nice That, the Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain exhibition will feature images from several photographers who were born or are based in Britain. Most of them have family origins in different countries. In a statement released by the Somerset House, they said, “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 exhibition will explore what it is like and how it feels to live as an immigrant in modern Britain. The show is curated by writer Ekow Eshun and Creative Director Darrell Vydelingum. The featured artists will have their own take on expressing their views or sharing their personal experiences about immigration. Most of the photos will be about showing a different perspective of immigrant journeys and showing the struggles of the immigrants seeking asylum. 

According to the official website of the Somerset House, the exhibition celebrates immigration in everyday life. It is part of their summer program that explores issues of representation, identity, and perception in British society. It is a great opportunity for people to gain a deeper understanding of immigration. Aside from the exhibition, Somerset House will also conduct a panel discussion, gallery talks, and a practical workshop. 

Featured Artists and Works in the Exhibition

The exhibition places a significant focus on the immigrant communities, particularly on how they are influencing the UK's identity. One of the featured artists is Seba Kurtis, who will show his own story as an illegal immigrant through "Heartbeat." It is a series of portraits of migrants held at UK detention centers. The title of the exhibit was inspired by the use of heartbeat detectors by the British police to locate people hiding amongst cargo. 

The Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain exhibition will feature images from several photographers who were born or are based in Britain / MA8 via Shutterstock


Another is Chris Steele-Perkins' "The New Londoners" which tells the stories of families' origins from each of the 200 UN-recognised countries of the world now living in London. The exhibit will share the reasons why these people chose to settle in the city. Visitors will also see "Dalston Anatomy," a mix of portrait photography and abstract sculpture created by Lorenzo Vitturi. It will show the energy of different cultures present at the Ridley Road Market in East London. 

Additionally, Mahtab Hussain's "The Quiet Town of Tipton" captures life in the Sandwell borough after a racist attack on the Kanzul Iman mosque in 2013. It offers a voice to people who have suffered from xenophobic attitudes. "The Queen, The Chairman and I" by Kurt Tong, on the other hand, is a photo series which documents his family's journey from Hong Kong to the country over the last 100 years.