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Arriving in the UK from Jamaica in 1958 with £5 in her pocket as part of the Windrush generation, Alcock moved to Brixton to realise her dream of opening a boutique dress shop on Railton Road – an area famous for connecting with London’s LGBTQ+ community.
A loved member of her neighbourhood, below her shop, she ran a ‘shebeen’ – an illegal drinking club for her friends, and popular with the local black gay community, and she later opened a café on the same street.
Following the Brixton riots in the early 1980s, trade in the café ceased and Alcock was forced onto the dole. Unable to afford a birthday card for a friend, she made one instead. This simple act sparked an outpouring of creativity that lasted her entire lifetime, as she realised her ‘visions’ and ‘moods’ in the form of drawings and paintings. These abstract tangles of colour and texture caught the attention of Monika Kinley and Victor Musgrave who purchased a number of works for their collection of Outsider art - now part of the Whitworth’s collection and displayed in this exhibition together for the first time.
18 May 2019 – 12 January 2020
Image: Pearl Alcock, Celebration of the Night, (detail) 1987
Gifted to the Whitworth by the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Trust, 2010