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Multi Site Exhibition: Handsworth1985 Revisted / Birmingham, March 2019

Dramatic photos taken at the height of the Handsworth Riots are to appear on billboards across the city this month in a project by two of the city's most influential black artists.

Poems by Benjamin Zephaniah will accompany the images taken by Pogus Caesar for Handsworth 1985 Revisited.

The two men - both 'sons of Handsworth' - hope the work will be a stark reminder that anger caused by neglect, poverty and racism can sometimes erupt into violence. 

As Caesar describes it: "A tiny spark can become a gigantic flame". “The conditions I see when I walk around Handsworth and Lozells are very much the same as they were back in 1985.

"Those riots were the result of frustration built up over years of people suffering from poor job prospects, poor housing, poverty, harassment, racism, and a ‘them-and-us’ situation."

The artist was living in Handsworth when the riots erupted in September 1985.

The stunning images he captured at the time on his 35mm Canon camera will feature alongside reflective poems by writer and Handsworth ‘elder statesman’ Zephaniah.

They will be appearing in up to 20 locations around the city centre and on roadsides later this month.

The project, which has been three years in the making, is designed to “stimulate conversation” about the underlying issues of disengagement, deprivation and racism that still stalk the inner city.

 “We hope they will afford a provocative walk through the events of 1985 and a sobering, timely reminder of how easily ignorance, inequality and justice begets social unrest,” Caesar said.

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