Perception: The Countees of Leicester

10 January - 21 April 2023



An exhibition that explores the fascinating history of a local family

Perception: The Countees of Leicester

Migration, diversity and Leicester 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”. 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 in to 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 the 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.

The exhibition will be located in the People’s Space within the permanent Leicester Stories Gallery. It provides a space for contemporary communities to share their experiences of life in the city, their heritage, and their stories.

Free Exhibition Events:

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