Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Windrush

July 4, 2023

To mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush, in June the Royal Drawing School hosted two free drawing workshops for young artists exploring the living history of the Windrush Generation through drawing and aural history.  


The Power of the Portrait was a free drawing workshop at our studios in Shoreditch. Students were lucky enough to draw and hear from actor Rudolph Walker CBE, known to many as Eastenders' Patrick Trueman. He spoke about his experience as part of the Windrush Generation and students explored the capacity of portraiture to connect us with each other and celebrate individuals and their stories. ⁠




Windrush Portraits was a free online workshop designed for school classes and larger groups - we were delighted to be joined by 10 schools from all over the UK. This one-hour online drawing event, aimed at young artists aged 12 – 18, was introduced by Baroness Floella Benjamin OM, DBE. The session was broadcast live from our studios in Shoreditch where students drew and heard from former policeman, Ron Frater MBE, who shared his experience as part of the Windrush Generation.   




Ron was interviewed by Summer Benjamin Maclean, an alumni of the Royal Drawing School, who recently graduated from the London College of Fashion with a BA in Fashion Textiles: Embroidery. Summer’s grandparents are part of the Windrush Generation, moving from St Lucia and Antigua to London. 

The workshop explored how aural history brings new meaning to portraiture, helping us to connect more deeply with the person that we are drawing.  The hope was to forge understanding between generations and students left with a newfound appreciation for the experiences of the Windrush Generation.  

More workshops coming up at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

In collaboration with the Royal Collection Trust we are running a number of portraiture workshops at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, led by one of our expert tutors. These workshops includes an opportunity to visit the exhibition Windrush: A Pioneering Generation, currently on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, before returning to the Abbey Strand Centre where you will create a portrait of your own.

Portraiture: Family Workshop (10 - 14), Saturday 29th July, 10am - 1pm / Book here

Portraiture: Adult Workshop, Saturday 29th July, 2 - 4.30pm / Book here

This education programme has been developed to accompany the exhibition, Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation, a series of portraits commissioned by His Majesty King Charles III. The programme has been created in collaboration with Baroness Floella Benjamin OM, DBE and Ms Paulette Simpson CBE, members of the Windrush Portraits Committee, and the Royal Collection Trust.

Windrush Portrait - John (Big John) Richards painted by Deanio X
John (Big John) Richards painted by Deanio X, alumnus of The Drawing Year

Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation

This special exhibition features ten portraits of members of the Windrush Generation. The portraits have been commissioned by His Majesty The King, to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush on the shores of mainland Britain on 22 June 1948.

These early pioneers who left their homelands and all that was familiar to them, and the generations who followed them, worked hard to rebuild a country emerging from the ravages of the Second World War and were key to the development of essential infrastructure, including health and transport services. These remarkable people, who showed resilience and pride throughout their lives, represent the positive impact of diversity across Britain.

You can see the portraits at Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh from June to September, and at the National Portrait Gallery, London from October.