Perception: The Countees of Leicester

Migration, diversity and Leicester’s heritage are a recipe for a rich explosion of culture all of which is showcased in this enlightened exhibition that highlights difference, belonging and place.

Perception: The Countees of Leicester explores the fascinating history of a local family against the backdrop of Victorian, Edwardian and post-war Leicester, using photographs, ephemera and documents to create a more complete picture of life in the Midlands. This exhibition reveals a performing arts dynasty that can be traced back to Methodist preacher Reverend Francis Nelson Countee and his son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Eliza Countee, music hall stars known as “The Two Countees”.

It was a legacy that was continued by their daughter Frances “Mabel” Elkington, neé Countee and her own children and grandchildren. The exhibition unpacks representation, identity and belonging, transcending beyond the Eurocentric gaze of privilege, class and expectation and provides an insight into historical Black presence that is in plain sight, yet has remained hidden.

Thanks to Diane Clafton, Richard Elkington, Allan Countee and their families for sharing their story and Alex Darby for her support. Perception: The Countees of Leicester is curated by Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage, in partnership with Leicester Museums and Galleries.

Supported with funding from Leicester City Council, Arts Council England and National Lottery
Heritage Fund.

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