Birmingham Museum and Arts Gallery: 40 Years of Wassifa Exhibition

25 Jun '2017
{content}Birmingham Museum and Arts Gallery: 40 Years of Wassifa Exhibition

Front and Back Room Exhibition

In celebration of Black History Month 2016, Birmingham Museum and Arts Gallery hosted the ‘40 Years of Wassifa Exhibition’. The exhibition was installed by Mykal Wassifa Brown CIC, donning a display representing a 1960s traditional African – Caribbean Front Room. Adjacent to the Front Room was a very artist display of the Back Room, representing the space in which Wassifa Sound System met in the 1970s to strategise; arrange music and develop the sound in preparation for decades entertain the masses. The feedback from visitors of the museum was outstanding, with many from the African – Caribbean Community commenting on the cultural attention to detail. A museum visitor said, “This takes me back! Every house had the Gram in the front room, which was always a room for visitors and best. The fish on the gram; three birds displayed on the wall and pineapple are key features – unforgettable.”
The unforgettable front and back room exhibitions evoked memory through textures; colours and careful positioned artefacts. The exhibition evoked reflection; sense of familiarity and captured character alongside feeling. 

Excellence Through Education Display 

Education is an influential feature in the delivery of Wassifa initiatives which was reflected throughout the 40 Years of Wassifa Exhibition. Incorporated into the exhibition was a photographic display of a series of international excursions; youth activities and educational projects delivered through the Wassifa movement.  Mykal said, “It is important that we document our history and help the next generation grow through education. This is essential for the advancement of our community.” 

Elijah Thompson Photography Exhibition

As a participant in the Mykal Wassifa Brown Heritage Foundation, Elijah Thompson began to utilise and advance his media skills. This led to opportunities to capture bubbly presenter, Rebbecca Hemmings, through a lens, as she interviewed icons such as Bunny Johnson on the television set of the Wassifa Caribbean Show. Elijah went on take images of international reggae icons in concert as a Wassifa Photographer. This led to Elijah’s images being exhibited with the 40 Years of Wassifa Exhibition. This was Elijah’s first photography exhibition held in Birmingham.  Solihull College communications officer said, “Well done to media student, Elijah Thompson for having his photography displayed in Birmingham Museum.”
Elijah said, “It was a huge accomplishment to see my work on display in the main museum in Birmingham. I felt like a piece of my history was shared and documented for others to reflect on. Mykal has taught me a lot about the importance of quality and documenting history. It was an honour to be a part of this phase in the Wassifa Journey. I hope those seeing the exhibition felt the energy and was left inspired seeing the performances through these images.”

Professional Exhibition 

Museum staff commented on the high quality and professional standard of the entire exhibition. There was noticeable increase of visitors to the museum from African - Caribbean communities and a sense of accomplishment by members of the Mykal Wassifa Brown CIC team. Mykal Brown commented, “We aim to use new spaces which our community wouldn’t naturally access. Many said it was the first time they have visited the museum despite living here all their life.”