Wolverhampton Literature Festival: Diversity is key

By James Vukmirovic | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published:

Paintings and poems about diversity were at the heart of events to open the Wolverhampton Literature Festival.

Jefny Ashcroft and Joy Baines led discussions on the story of "Nurse Brown from Jamaica"

The festival, which will see events and exhibitions all over the city, saw two events at Wolverhampton Art Gallery help to open the three-day programme.

The first event of the festival was a presentation and discussion of an unusual 1950s painting called "Nurse Brown from Jamaica".

A diverse audience joined in the discussion about the painting with local historian and writer Jefny Ashcroft and artist Joy Baines.

Jefny described Nurse Brown as an enigma, stating that not a lot is known about the subject of the painting, which was painted by Birmingham-based artist Irene Welburn in 1956.

Other discussion points raised by Jefny and Joy looked at whether the subject was a real person, the possibility the hands symbol represented female freemasonry or rastafarianism and how it may carry a lot of artistic licence from the artist.


Members of the audience raised points about the painting, with one saying the artist might be making a definitive statement with the hands to bring attention away from the eyes.

Paintings then gave way to poems as the Punjabi Women's Writing Group took centre stage to perform their stories and poems.


The group, which formed in 2018 and are the only Punjabi women's writing group in the country, presented a show based on their experiences growing up and living in Punjabi families.

Founder Kuli Kohli headlined the event with stories from her new book "Patchwork", with supporting stories and poems from Parveen Brigue, Santosh K Dary and Priyanka Joshi.

The stories told touched on subjects such as arranged marriage, structures in Asian households, travelling to the UK in the 1960s and 70s and attitudes towards women.

The Wolverhampton Literature Festival continues until Sunday, February 2.

To find out more, go to

James Vukmirovic

By James Vukmirovic
Community Reporter - @jamesvukmirovic

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Wolverhampton. Contact me at

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