New Film Work by Alberta Whittle Announced as Part of the Hackney Windrush Public Programme
Create London has announced details of a new film commission by artist Alberta
Whittle (b.1980). Whittle is the latest artist to be commissioned as part of the Hackney
Windrush Public Programme, which is curated by Create London in partnership with
Hackney Council and funded by the Freelands Foundation. Whittle’s new work, titled
The Axe Forgets But The Tree Remembers, will be screened at three London venues
during September 2022.
Whittle is currently representing Scotland at the 2022 Venice Art Biennale with the acclaimed
exhibition deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory. Her new work, The Axe Forgets But The
Tree Remembers, is a multi-voiced portrayal of members of the Windrush Generation and
their descendants; with Whittle’s own family history woven into the narrative through archival
footage of her grandfather, alongside stories sourced from Hackney Archives and
conversations with the borough’s Windrush residents.
The title of the work echoes a Caribbean proverb of the same phrasing. It is a provocation
which recalls the estrangement and animosity experienced by those who first migrated to the
UK from the Caribbean, as well as the effects of hostile policy, anti-blackness and racism which
continues to be felt by their descendants today.
The history of Whittle’s family, who came to the UK from Barbados in 1958 and later returned
in 1963, subverts the dominant narrative surrounding the Windrush generation - that everyone
who came to the ‘Mother Country’, stayed. In the work, Whittle represents this alternative, little-
known reality of migration as a form of resistance, articulated through the movement and
performance of artist and researcher Zinzi Minott, alongside the darker truths and hostile
environments that the Windrush generation were met with on their arrival in the UK. Reflecting
on the state of uncertainty and precarity which continues to be experienced by the
descendants of the Windrush Generation, Whittle also considers creative displays of
resistance that can be manifested through play, pleasure, or protest.
The Axe Forgets But The Tree Remembers will be screened at three London venues during
September 2022. All screenings will be preceded by a talk with selected guests and followed
by an audience Q&A. Tickets will be available to buy on each venue’s websites and Eventbrite.
● Wednesday 7 September, 7pm: EartH, Hackney, with an in-conversation between
Alberta Whittle and Lewis Dalton Gilbert, Creative Director of A Vibe Called Tech
● Wednesday 21 September, 2:30pm: The Rio Cinema, Hackney - special matinee
screening for Windrush elders with an in-conversation between Hackney Resident
Janice Knight and Lauren Gee, Programme Producer, Create London.
● Monday 26 September, 2pm: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich - special
screening for the Caribbean Social Forum with an in-conversation between Alberta
Whittle and Hackney Resident Janice Knight
● Monday 26 September, 7pm: Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum,
Greenwich, with an in-conversation between Alberta Whittle and Dr Neal Shashore,
Head of School at The London Architecture School
The film is part of the Hackney Windrush Public Programme, whose recent activations
include a new podcast mini-series produced by Prison Radio Association called Windrush
Stories * Hackney Edition and a zine made in response to a photography and poetry
residency held at Clr James Library last year, to be distributed in libraries across the
Previous commissioned artists for the Hackney Windrush Public Programme, funded by the
Freelands Foundation, include Martine Rose, Halina Edwards, Future Hackney, and
Touching Bass’ Errol Anderson. These projects complement the permanent Hackney
Windrush Art Commissions with Turner Prize-nominated Veronica Ryan OBE and Thomas J
The Hackney Windrush Public Programme is curated by Create London in partnership with
Hackney Council with support from Freelands Foundation.
NOTES TO EDITORS
For press information and images contact:
Sam Talbot, email@example.com // 07725 184630
Mary Doherty, firstname.lastname@example.org // 07716 701499
Alberta Whittle (she/ her) b. 1980 Bridgetown, Barbados. She lives and works in Glasgow.
Alberta has been based in Scotland since moving here to study firstly at Edinburgh College
of Art and later on the Master of Fine Arts programme at The Glasgow School of Art. She is
currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh and Research Associate at The
University of Johannesburg.
Alberta was awarded a Turner Bursary, the Frieze Artist Award and a Henry Moore
Foundation Artist Award in 2020. She was the Margaret Tait Award winner for 2018/19. Her
work has been acquired by major public collections including the National Galleries of
Scotland, Glasgow Museums Collections and the Contemporary Art Research Collection at
Edinburgh College of Art, as well as by other private collections.
Create London is an arts organisation that has pioneered working with artists to
realise new social enterprises, charities and cultural spaces. It commissions, curates
and incubates long-term projects that are useful to society, supporting artists to work
collaboratively with local communities. It reimagines the role of the artist in the city,
working outside of galleries to find new and often surprising ways for art to become
part of everyday life. Create London is an Arts Council England National Portfolio
Freelands Foundation was set up in 2015 to give more people the chance to
engage with and enjoy the arts in the UK, with a particular focus on education. Their
ambition is to give everyone access to art education in the belief that it raises their
aspirations and transforms their opportunities in life. They have worked with more
than 30 arts organisations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to
support artists and broaden their engagement in their communities.
In 2018, Hackney was the first UK council to pass a comprehensive Motion regarding the
Windrush generation. Alongside lobbying for justice for those affected by the Windrush
Scandal, honouring the Windrush community is key to the borough’s commitments. Hackney
Council’s Windrush Engagement Program supports the borough’s ongoing pledge to honor
the valuable contributions of the Windrush generation. https://hackney.gov.uk/windrush
Royal Museums Greenwich
The Queen’s House is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the National
Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Cutty Sark. This unique collection of
museums and heritage buildings, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World
Heritage Site, welcomes visitors from across the world and is also a major centre of education and
research. The mission of Royal Museums Greenwich is to enrich people’s understanding of the
sea, the exploration of space, and Britain's role in world history. For more information visit
The 17th century Queen’s House, designed by Inigo Jones, was the first Classical building in
England. It is known for its perfectly proportioned Great Hall, original marble floor and beautiful
Tulip staircase. The Queen’s House has Scheduled Monument status as it is a building of unique
architectural. Visitors to the Queen’s House can see highlights from the National Maritime
Museum’s fine art collection, including the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I and exquisite examples
of the work of the Van de Veldes.