Bass Culture 70/50: The UK’s largest Jamaican music exhibition highlights Windrush’s impact on Britain

Bass Culture 70/50 is a four-week exhibition exploring the impact of Jamaican and Jamaican-influenced music on British culture, taking place in London from 25 October until 22rdNovember 2018, held at Ambika P3, London.

The event celebrates 70 years since Windrush and 50 years of reggae.

The exhibition will feature previously unseen artwork, specially commissioned films, top industry speakers, UK reggae label pop-up showcases, live performances, and over 70 hours of individual testimonies, linking – for the first time – the memories and experiences of black British musicians, industry practitioners, academics and audiences.

Contributors include Benjamin Zephaniah, Steel Pulse, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Sir Lloyd Coxsone, Don Letts, Blacker Dread, Carroll Thompson, Dennis Bovell, and Janet Kay.

The exhibition will also include a ‘Rude Boy Catwalk’, with attendees invited to come dressed as they were when they first experienced a gig influenced by Jamaican music, be it ska or reggae, jungle or grime. Taking place on 9 November, the collaborative catwalk will be the first of its kind to reflect on five decades of fashion inspired by these genres. There will also be a mini film festival premiering ‘Bass Culture’, a 60-minute documentary mapping the impact of Jamaican music from a youth perspective.

Curated by Bass Culture Research, a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project set up to explore the impact of Jamaican music in the UK, the organisation has already made waves with The Grime Report, which led to the withdrawal of Form 696, a controversial risk assessment form criticised for being discriminatory and targeting genres such as grime.

While Jamaican music has been fundamental to the development of multicultural Britain, its influence has arguably never been recognised. Following recent moves to ramp up police stop and search powers, together with claims that Jamaican-influenced genres such as drill are fuelling gang wars, marginalisation and discrimination risks being on the rise again. Bass Culture 70/50 seeks to challenge these negative interpretations and rather recognise the impact of Jamaican culture on not only the musical canon but on British culture and identity itself.

Partners of the exhibition include the AHRC, Black Cultural Archives, British Library, SOAS, Goldsmiths University, Urbanimage and Camera Press.

Mykaell Riley, Principal Investigator and Director of the Bass Culture Music Unit at the University of Westminster, and former member of Steel Pulse, said “This is the story of the soundtrack to multiculturalism, a hidden history that is still impacting on new music.

Location: Ambika P3, 35 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LS

Free entry

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