Mexican Portraits in the United Kingdom

There has always been a tendency to stereotype Mexicans — the Mexican diaspora is no different. As a consequence of highlighting only certain characteristics of Mexicans abroad while creating a sense of community or collectivity, some of the differences that make the individuals unique become harder to see.

Mexican Portraits in the United Kingdom is an effort to make visible the singularity of Mexicans living in the UK, stressing their diversity and range of biographies, professional backgrounds and personal experiences. It is a visual, artistic, and narrative testimonial that aims to contribute to collective memory, showcasing the talent of our community and its contributions to all aspects of British society, a source of pride and inspiration.

Through the lens of photographer Manuel Delaflor, the Mexican Embassy in the UK is pleased to present Portraits MXUK, an exhibition of photographs that capture the identity of each person. The Residence of Mexico opened its doors to serve as background to provide a more personal setting between photographer and subject, in a Mexican atmosphere within a space that represents our country in the British capital.

The portraits are complemented by short autobiographies that tell the stories of remarkable effort and dedication, as well as the personal memories and life experiences behind each portrait.

The Mexican community in the UK consists of approximately 16,000 people, the third largest in Europe, after Spain and Germany. Its origin is mostly urban and it is characterised by its diversity and dynamism, as well as its sense of community.

The personal stories that brought each of our nationals to the UK are singular and are worth listening to. In some cases, the main motivation was related to education: they came to pursue postgraduate studies and were offered positions at universities given their academic qualifications and research capabilities.

In other cases, the incentive to move to the UK, was work-related since some of the individuals we feature received job offers in the financial sector, in the sports industry, at a British or multinational company, in the media or at a non-governmental organisation. For those in the arts, culture, and creative industries, a number came to take up artistic residencies supported by Mexican and British cultural funds. Finally, some came to the UK because of family reasons after starting a transatlantic romantic relationship.

A project of this nature took some time to bring together. For this reason, we are starting with 47 portraits, a sample which will increase as a testament to a community that grows every day and which has an ever rising presence.

Given the digital nature of the project, the intention is that this registry is permanently updated and that it serves as a reservoir for parallel networking projects, yielding more opportunities for interaction and strengthening the existing community networks.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations, via the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and the Executive Directorate of Cultural Diplomacy, as well as Red Global MX UK support this project, which also received the generous contribution of private sponsors.