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The Africa Centre has partnered with English Heritage for their latest exhibition, ‘Painting Our Past: The African Diaspora in England’. It’s a series of portraits depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora whose stories have contributed to history.

The six individuals include Septimius Severus, an African-born Roman emperor who strengthened Hadrian’s Wall, and James Chappell, a Black 17th-century servant at Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire who saved the life of the then owner, Sir Christopher Hatton.

‘Painting our Past’ also includes the portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Queen Victoria’s African goddaughter. All the commissioned artists identify as Black or mixed-heritage and each of them was supported by English Heritage curators and historians to creatively portray their subject.

From Roman Britain to the 20th century, the lives of these different individuals span the centuries, and their portraits shed new light on the long history of African people in England.

Oba Nsugbe, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Africa Centre said: “This exhibition offers an opportunity to interrogate and fill the historical gaps in conventional education about the impact and importance of Black people from a very early time in Britain.  With the primary audience being young people in the local area, the powerful images encourage learning, growth and stimulate debate”.

The exhibition will be on view from the 20th of September until the 28th of October 2022. For more information, please visit The Africa Centre.

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