Citizen UK: Caribbean Influencers exhibition celebrates Croydon’s rich heritage as part of London Borough of Culture

Visitors to the Museum of Croydon will be able to learn about how Caribbean migration has helped influence the borough through a new exhibition in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, developed to coincide with London Borough of Culture 2023.

Citizen UK: Croydon’s Caribbean Influencers is a dynamic, new exhibition developed in partnership with the Museum of Croydon, National Portrait Gallery, artist Kyam (Camara Pinnock), Croydon Poet Laureate Shaniqua Benjamin and a local volunteer group of Citizen Researchers for The Mayor of London’s London Borough of Culture programme.

The free exhibition funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund, which opens on Friday 14 April, explores the stories and influence of Croydon residents who have shaped the borough through their Caribbean roots, but are often uncredited or underrepresented.

Citizen Researchers held workshops in which they explored archive material and themes, collected oral histories and considered whose stories were missing from the public record. The exhibition creatively tells these inspiring stories using archive material, spoken word and portraits, giving a snapshot of the local histories uncovered.

Shaniqua Benjamin, Croydon Poet Laureate, said: “As a Caribbean Croydonian, I have poured myself into this project to bring it to life in a way that would do my islands and borough proud. Being involved in all aspects – from collecting oral histories, to writing poetry, to curating content, has been an eye-opening experience.”

Among the influencers featured in the exhibition are the Metropolitan Police’s first female Black police officer, the late Sislin Fay Allen, sibling champion boxers Clinton and Duke McKenzie and renowned musical director, composer and performer, Ken Burton.

London Borough of Culture is a Mayor of London initiative, launched in June 2017. The award puts culture at the heart of local communities, where it belongs. It shines a light on the character and diversity of London’s boroughs and brings culture to everyone, so that all Londoners have the chance to be part of something extraordinary.

Virginia Smith, Museum and Collection Manager at the Museum of Croydon, said: “Our Caribbean Influencers are all people who have, in some way, helped to change our world. Be it in the past, where they broke barriers and confronted established structures, or in the present where they work with their communities to promote creativity, enterprise and social cohesion.”

Liz Smith, Director of Learning and Engagement, National Portrait Gallery, added: “We are delighted to have partnered with the Museum of Croydon for Citizen UK: Croydon’s Caribbean Influencers. The exhibition is rich with stories that demonstrate the ongoing impact of the Caribbean community of Croydon both in the borough and beyond it.

“These are stories explored and uncovered by local citizen researchers and brought to life by young creative talent through dynamic new portraits by artist Kyam and poetry by Croydon’s Poet Laureate Shaniqua Benjamin for the whole community to explore.”

Jason Perry

“Citizen UK: Caribbean Influencers is a celebration of the diversity of our borough and is a chance to showcase what makes our borough so special – our people.

“We are delighted to have partnered with local artists, Citizen Researchers and National Portrait Gallery as part of an exciting programme of events for everyone to enjoy during our year as London Borough of Culture.”

Jason Perry, Executive Mayor of Croydon


Citizen UK: Caribbean Influencers exhibition is at Museum of Croydon from 14 April until 30 June. Find out more about the programme for This is Croydon at and follow @culturecroydon on social media.

2023-04-13T17:15:23+01:00 April 13th, 2023|Recent news|