21 January – 19 February 2022
About Stories from the Caribbean Front Room
The Windrush scandal and COVID-19 pandemic have exposed long-standing racial inequalities in Wales and other parts of the UK that have disproportionately impacted groups of Black Caribbean background, leading to loss of jobs, homes, and premature death.
From 1948 Britain invited migrants to travel from Caribbean or West Indian countries to help rebuild the “heart of the empire”. Many settled in British port cities, including Cardiff, a site of one of the oldest black communities in the country. The Caribbean Front Room became a space of sanctuary from the racism and hostility they experienced on arrival. It was a space to socialise, where communities with shared experiences found solidarity and forged critical networks. Today, the Caribbean Front Room archives memories of this history of migration and resilience.
Stories from the Caribbean Front Room aims to record and value narratives inspired by the material culture – objects, textiles, foods – that travelled with and retranslated to a British context by the Windrush generation. These everyday object stories are vital cultural vectors of personal and collective memory, trauma and loss.
The project takes inspiration from the Museum of the Home’s 1970s Front Room Curated by Michael McMillan, which explores the migrant experience of African-Caribbean families setting up homes in the UK in the mid-20th century. You can read more about Michael’s research in his book: The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home; The book is currently out of print but the lead artist Lucille’s personal copy is available through the pop up reference library.
As well as other front room installations, the project is also influenced by Vanley Burke’s body of work. Born in Jamaica in 1951, artist Vanley Burke has lived in Birmingham since 1965 and is renowned as a photographer, dedicated archivist and collector, especially concerned with British black culture. In 2015, the entire contents of his flat in Nechells, north-east Birmingham, was transported to the Ikon Gallery. The installation provided an invaluable insight into Birmingham’s Afro Caribbean communities through Vanley’s substantial archive of posters, books, clothes, records, and ornaments. Vanley Burke’s Rivers of Birminam is available to read in the project reference library. If you want to buy your own copy Ffotogaleri y Gofeb (The Memorial Photography Gallery) in mid Wales has copies and anything you buy from them is beautifully wrapped.
Scroll down for Opening Hours and Activities Programme
- Front Room Installation and Pop Up Reference Library. You are welcome to come to the space for research or simply to sit in the front room space and browse the books. CLICK HERE for the list of books available.
Upcoming opening hours
- Thursday 3 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Friday 4 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Saturday 5 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Monday 7 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Tuesday 8 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Wednesday 9 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Thursday 10 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Friday 11 February 14:00- 17:00
- Wednesday 16 February 14:00 – 18:00
- Thursday 17 February 14:30 – 18:00
- Friday 18 February 10:00 – 14:00
- Saturday 19 February TBC
Saturday 29 January 2022 12:00 – 16:00
Crochet Drop In session – Bring your current projects or start a new one. Sit in the front room, browse the library, listen too the radiogram. We will have hot drinks and biscuits waiting for you.
Wednesday 9 – Thursday 10 February 2022 10:00 – 13:00 Oral History Workshop POSTPONED UNTIL MARCH (Online) Booking Essential BOOK HERE
This self-contained online course, organised jointly by the National Life Stories at the British Library and the Oral History Society, aims to be an informal and practical introduction to oral history interviewing with an opportunity to learn about recording equipment and discuss some of the issues around oral history, life stories and memory. No previous experience of oral history is required.
The workshop will be delivered by Rosa Schling, co-director of On the Record, an oral history and creative arts organisation. She has managed managed numerous oral history and community heritage projects, including Sounds from the Park: an oral history of Speakers’ Corner, A Hackney Autobiography: Remembering Centerprise, Holding the Baby: oral histories of childcare and parenting in East London, Doing it Ourselves: the First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery, Writing and Reading Newham and Housmans: 60 Years of Books and Activism.
We are preparing online resources for those interested in researching Windrush histories