Meet one of the artists behind new stamp designs celebrating Windrush 75.

In June 2023, Royal Mail released a collection of new stamps, commemorating the 75th year since the arrival of the hundreds of passengers from Caribbean countries to the UK, on the passenger liner and cruise ship named the Empire Windrush.

We spoke to Bokiba, one of the five artists commissioned to create these special stamps.

This is a selfie of the artist Bokiba. She looks to be in her twenties and is wearing big hooped earrings, glasses and a colourful bandana.

Hi Bokiba, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi my name is Baraka Carberry, however I go by the art alias Bokiba and I am a British Guyanese artist, currently based in the Midlands.

What made you interested in working on the commemorative Windrush 75 stamps project? 

The fact that Windrush is part of my heritage made me interested. I wanted to celebrate 75 years of Windrush, to be part of creating something that would touch the hearts of those from the Windrush generation and generations after. I wanted to be part of a collection that celebrated our stories in a commemorative, colourful way.

Fundamentally I intended to create something that made my Grandparents proud.

Talk to us about your stamps – how did you decide on the themes of cricket and carnival?

For both of my stamps it was important that the viewer was reminded of the sunshine and expressiveness of the Caribbean. Hopefully making the viewer reflect on the long journey that those from the Windrush generation had to make to come to England, and the stark difference of the landscape that they would have seen on arrival, compared to where they came from.

I did not chose the themes for the stamps and was given a clear brief. Through the assigned themes I wanted to celebrate what the Windrush generation brought to the UK, and all the doors they opened for future generations. Celebrating my culture and heritage.

This Cricket themed stamp shows four Black Cricketers in the middle of a game. Two players are holding bats and two are throwing Cricket balls. The Caribbean sky in the background is clear and bright

The Cricket themed stamp ‘Here we come’

How long did it take you to design the stamps? Is the process of stamp designing different to how you usually work?

The whole process took a few months to complete and was very different to how I usually work. I initially thought working at this scale would be familiar because I had previously created illustrations for American Kit Kat and Hershey’s bars to celebrate Black Music Month over there. However, working on a such a small scale had many more challenges than anticipated!

I have learnt so much from this process and find myself constantly referring back to a thumbnail size image whenever developing compositions for my digital art. I now say if it doesn’t look good stamp sized then it needs more work!

Why is it important that Black British artists worked on this project?

It was important Black artists work on the project, especially those of Caribbean heritage, as Windrush is especially part of our story and history. We are the ones who should tell these stories in true and authentic ways.

What would you like someone in the future who discovers these stamps to know about them? About the moment that inspired their creation or about their significance?

Almost everyone loves cricket in the Caribbean, especially my Grandfather and parents. I remember my Mum telling me stories about families and friends coming together to listen to a match on the radio or watching it live at the stadium. It is a sport that many from the Windrush generation enjoyed and partook in whether it be for sport or leisure. Since cricket is such a celebrated sport especially for those of the Windrush generation I wanted to commemorate this through a vibrant backdrop, representing cricket from both its Windrush days to our current time as a legacy that still lives on today.

Having female representation was important as cricket is best-known as a man’s sport. Representing the first Black female cricketer to play for England, Ebony Rainford-Brent, was one of the important features of the design.

My carnival stamp was inspired by the fact that carnival came about as a way of easing race relations after the Notting Hill race riots lead to the death of Kelso Cochrane. Two great women, Claudia Jones and Rhaune Laslett, planted the seeds to shape what would become one of Europe’s biggest carnivals. These two women, represented on the stamp as younger girls, would grow up to see their dreams and ambitions for a better future unfold into what we now know as Notting Hill Carnival.

This vibrant, colourful stamp embodies the essence of Carnival. Black Caribbean men and women can be seen dancing and playing Steel Drums.

Carnival themed stamp ‘Carnival Come Thru’

An amazing fact is that Notting Hill Carnival was initially intended to be a neighbourhood children’s street party but quickly expanded into a carnival. I believe it to be a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved in coming together, despite our differences.

In both of my stamps I tried to have intergenerational elements to represent the Windrush generation, and generations after. I am still here to tell the Windrush story, keeping our past and present heritage alive. I also hope that by creating an intergenerational dynamic it reminds people of their parents, grandparents, and heritage and what the future holds.

You can find out more about Bokiba’s work on her Instagram: