In recognition of Black History Month 2020 (October 1-31), NHS health and care partners in Salford have commissioned award-winning, Manchester-based artist Allie Crewe to develop a pop-up photography exhibition.
Still I Rise was originally exhibited at The Lowry in Salford in 2020 and has been developed with Black Lives Matter as its main focus. But due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibition will exhibit digitally this year. Partners include Salford University, NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, Salford Primary Care Together, Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, Salford CVS and Salford Healthwatch.
Crewe was selected as photographer for the exhibition following her You Brought Your Own Light project, a celebration of her evocative work with transgender subjects. Her portrait Grace was chosen as a winner of the British Journal of Photography Portrait of Britain Awards 2019.
The idea for Still I Rise came from Salford’s BAME Mental Health Ambassadors who wanted to celebrate Salford’s diverse culture and include Black, Asian and ethnic minority stories and portraits. One such collaborator is public health engagement and inclusion lead at Salford City Council, Amira Taha, who has written a poem as part of the project. Taha says: “I felt it wasn’t just about me and that details of individuals’ experiences and pain was not the main point from my perspective. It’s more about the resilience one builds through their personal journey and the attitude we acquire to manage all the adversity that is thrown at us in our journeys, yet we still rise.
“To all human beings who once were wounded and hurt because of ignorance and hatred, here you go, a message from a Black-African, Muslim, Arabic-speaking migrant worker woman to racists, Islamophobes, xenophobes, sexists, homophobes and discriminatory beings that are happy to practice their ignorance whenever they choose.”
Still I rise by Amira Taha
We are products of a distorted world that was created when kindness, justice and humanity were ignored by you.
Your hatred will only make me pity you, what a lost soul.
Be ready, as I will challenge your ignorance! Your unreasoned hatred is disgraceful.
My dignity and resilience bother you.
My morals and principles bother you.
My stamina and success bother you.
My mere existence bothers you.
Stay bothered, as I will continue to prosper and shine.
I am not going away.
Get used to living bothered.
For I exist… Still I rise.
Main image: Amira Taha, Still I Rise by Allie Crewe