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Jay Bernard: Far From The Start

Far from the Start is a newly commissioned installation and sound work by Jay Bernard.


Stemming from a combination of research and personal experience, Bernard has responded to the Clapham South Deep Level Shelter as a point of diffusion after the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush in 1948.


Opened to the public in July 1944, Clapham South deep-level shelter was used by people seeking refuge during the Second World War and later, by visitors to the Festival of Britain. In June 1948, due to a lack of temporary housing the disused shelter housed 236 Caribbean people, newly arrived on the Windrush following World War II. Conditions were basic, cramped and noisy in the windowless bunker. Fifteen storeys underground, it was a site of contradictory political gestures: fear from politicians about “coloured immigration” and a practical, warm and official welcome that became a sincere effort to find jobs and accommodation. The shelter’s miles-long subterranean passageways remain as a testament to the fascinating stories of those who stayed there.


The piece is composed of three movements: the first is a spoken narrative piece, addressing the question of how we understand ourselves and find political direction in the post-windrush moment; the second is the instrumental, subconscious flip-side to that question; the third is a series of direct recordings from the deep level shelter.


Studio Voltaire London, until 7th April ‘24. Free entry.




Image credits: Installation view at Studio Voltaire London. Image courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire. Photo:Sarah-Rainer.


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