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Brown girl in the ring

Lynda Moyo heads down to Urbis for the Multiple Heritage Project

Written by . Published on November 5th 2007.

Brown girl in the ring

"The woolly haired girl's mum’s here," hollered my nursery school teacher when my mother came to pick me up in the 80s. Being the only mixed-race child in the class provoked both intrigue and uncertainty not only from children but also adults. Fast forward a few decades and being mixed race is no longer a rarity. In Manchester it is, in fact, the fastest growing section of the population.

There is a growing mixed-race population in Manchester and for many years this group has had their identity dictated by mono-heritage people.

Urbis is showing an exhibition by Bradley Lincoln about multiple heritage - another phrase for mixed race. Here there's a sea of vivid faces alongside the words we associate with them: mulatto, half-caste, inter-racial, half-breed, coloured, bi-racial, zebra. Zebra? Ok, maybe not on Lincoln's list but trust me, it’s been said.

From the outset, this exhibition is what it is: a load of photos. Upon closer inspection, Mixed Manchester is an interesting and beautiful display of multi-cultural Manchester today. It's not precious though, Lincoln points out: "This was not an art project, there is a social objective behind this work which has to be mentioned up front." Lincoln has a serious point to make.

Now 30-years-old, Lincoln grew up confused in Wythenshawe where he felt he lacked a sense of identity and belonging. These days, not only has Lincoln found middle ground, he has also chosen to share his findings with the rest of the city. He said: "My experiences growing up allowed me to see the world from two separate perspectives. I had a very happy childhood but would often feel a sense of nowhere-ness. The same social myths about mixed identity which existed when I was much younger are still around."Lincoln selected the faces for the project with a range of shots with different looks, expressions and colourings. Eye-surfing through the images, the faces make you unintentionally question the heritage of the participants. You can then read the parentage below the photographs if you wish to do so, but the pictures are interesting enough on their own. Let your mind wander.

One face of the project, Danny Fahey, was more than happy to lend his Irish and Creole/Mauritian exotic looks to the camera.

He said: "There are a lot of different views about mixed-race and where we fit in and our contributions to our communities. It’s a good thing that someone like Brad has taken the lead to celebrate mixed heritage as well as open up discussion about who we are."

Lincoln describes the exhibition as "an opportunity to acknowledge that there is a growing mixed-race population in Manchester." He said: "For many years this group has had its identity dictated by mono-heritage people, labeled as confused and mixed up, yet rarely having an opportunity to dictate their own racial identity. I hope this exhibition created this open space."

Having viewed the exhibition and as someone of mixed-race, it’s hard for me to decide if there is an issue here at all. In life people will always try to pigeon-hole and question things which they consider to be a bit different. If it’s not colour, it’s weight, if it’s not weight, it’s sexuality and so on. What’s most important is embracing the person that you are and accepting the diversity which surrounds us. With that in mind, this exhibition is definitely worth a view.

Mixed Manchester is showing at Urbis until Saturday 10 November. For more information on the Multiple Heritage Project please visit www.multipleheritage.co.uk/

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Eleanor DouglasNovember 5th 2007.

Interesting subject, being of mixed race and working in the creative industry it’s an issue that I’ve tried to visual communicate in the past, It seems this guy Bradley Lincoln has beat me to it.One thing I find a little annoying is when people assume my heritage. The majority people get it wrong so I have to educate for a short time, overall they seemed to be intrigue by my story at the same time puts us both in awkward situation.I suppose having a bagged of identity with full details of heritage along with a photo could be the way to deal with peoples ignorance.Or people could simply ask. What is your heritage? It could avoid lots of embarrassing situations.At the same time the exhibition give the opportunity to guess the heritage of the participants which could be a fun aspect, because to chances of getting it right would be a challenge in it self!Mixed Manchester a simple idea and it doesn’t really need to be complicated.It’s pretty evident that there is a growing mixed-race population in Manchester I like that fact he’s made a positive feature on it at the same time educating folk.

UrbisNovember 5th 2007.

I dunno, we get told off for not doing enough Manchester exhibitions, told off for putting them on for too long. It's just not fair...

GeraldineNovember 5th 2007.

A healthy here-and-now alternative to the old hat there-and-then Hacienda exhibition that seems to have been running for ever!! This represents Manchester as a thriving melting pot, where diversity is of paramount importance and supreme interest! Big up to my mate Danny for taking part! Def a good look! x

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