'Diversity is the way forward' — Ipswich photographer explores melting pot

Footballer Abbie, photographed by Ipswich's John Ferguson

Footballer Abbie, photographed by Ipswich's John Ferguson - Credit: John Ferguson

An award-winning photographer who moved to Suffolk more than 10 years ago is exploring how the Afro-Caribbean and minority communities came to call this place their home.

John Ferguson is the creative behind the acclaimed Black Britannia exhibition, which was displayed on the Cornhill, and has recently taken on his latest project Black Suffolk, which starts in May.

The award-winning photographer is passionate about exploring the roots of communities in Ipswich, after moving here from London to settle with his family.

Brazilian football icon Pele photographed by John Ferguson

Brazilian football icon Pele photographed by John Ferguson - Credit: John Ferguson

"The Cranes factory was a big employer," he explained. "It was the main reason for many people why they came to Ipswich from the Caribbean.

"The company actually went over to the Caribbean to recruit and entice people to move over for work in the steel factories and firms like Ransomes.

"I've always had this curiosity about the communities here; Romanian, Afro-Caribbean, Kurdish, Iranian, Bangladeshi — how did they come to be here, some of them are four generations on now, what drew them here and why did they stay?"

American troops from Fort Richardson in Alaska at the Kandahar airbase photographed by John

American troops from Fort Richardson in Alaska at the Kandahar airbase photographed by John - Credit: John Ferguson

Though Ipswich is more diverse than Suffolk as a whole, Mr Ferguson is keen to highlight the pockets of minority communities living in rural areas such as Lowestoft or Bury St Edmunds. 

This project will hopefully serve not only as a history lesson to younger generations, but also reach a broader audience as an educational piece.

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Based on the theme of home, he will be photographing people in their houses, with objects that make them feel at home, or in a setting which they feel represents their sense of belonging.

"I know race is a contentious topic," the 56-year-old added. "But this can bring about knowledge.

"When I first came here it was very insular and sometimes quite suffocating — I kept my head down and got on with it, but now it's changed and people are more open minded.

John has photographed many small communities in Suffolk, such as banger racing in Ipswich

John has photographed many small communities in Suffolk, such as banger racing in Ipswich - Credit: John Ferguson

"Only by highlighting these communities will people understand more about their home and we all need to open our eyes a little more and welcome new people in.

"Diversity is the way forward."

Black Suffolk is part of the Aspire Black Suffolk project, bringing activities such as African cooking classes, DJ sets and murals to Ipswich this summer.

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