What does it mean to be British?

Freelance Engagement Curator/Manager

2018 - 2019

What does it means to be British? invited ethnically diverse young people and a refugee and asylum seeker group to creatively explore their experience of “Britishness” producing artistic work for their own newspaper. Three groups from Nottingham, Birmingham and Leicester took part in weekly workshops supported by locally based artists.


Using the medium of newsprint is an accessible art form and gives people the opportunity to become their own creative directors, editors and distributors.

Participants: Young people (aged 13 to 25) from Concord Youth Centre Birmingham & Focus Charity Leicester. Global Sistaz United a self-led women's support group for asylum seekers and refugees from Nottingham.

Artist educators: Emily Warner (Birmingham) Panya Banjoko (Nottingham) and Mita Solanky (Leicester). 

Launch events

To celebrate the publication of their newspaper events three launch events took place in July 2019. All groups received a box of newspapers to share themselves and list other places and groups to send the paper.

The entire published newspaper is now available to read online here.


Global Sistaz United

Playworks, Nottingham

14 September - 12 October 2018

Artist - Panya Banjoko 

The group were asked to write their own questions and answers about what actual defines being British? For example "If I was born in England, went to school in England, eat rice & peas who does that make me? Jamaican? British? Or English?

The Life in the UK government test must be taken by anyone applying for British citizenship or settlement in the UK. Panya chose a selection of the 24 questions about British traditions and history from the form for everyone to discuss. The women created their own individual and more relevant set of questions. 

Other creative writing activities included "Dear Theresa May" expressing their experiences as an asylum seeker and "The advantages of being a migrant"

Concord Youth Centre

Sparkbrook, Birmingham

24 September - 15 November 2018

Artist - Emily Warner 

Young people have been creating their own art work, games, writing, headlines and puzzles.

Focus - Inspiring young people, creating change.


Street photography

1st - 15 March 2019

Artist - Mita Solanky

Young people took to the city streets at night to capture "Britishness" using their own theme or idea. These included music, hidden histories of buildings, the "nitty gritty", food, sports and pubs.

What does it mean to be British? is supported by a National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England. 

Introduction & Focus Photos

Photography:Ben Harriott