Stories from the Caribbean Front Room

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.

2 thoughts on “Stories from the Caribbean Front Room

  1. Pauline Lindsay-Jones says:

    I visited “The Front Room” and received a very warm welcome from Lucille. My visit was unplanned but I left with a very inspirational insight on what Lucille’s work entails and my personal connection to it.
    Coming from a Jamaican, Guyanese heritage it really highlighted the important significance of my own childhood “Front Room” and the true meaning of it’s existence. The message is not only important to me but also to my son and extended family members, to ensure we truly understand the historical connection of textiles and their significance in defining our roots. I truly believe the research and work being carried out both in the UK, Carribean and African countries plays a vital part in all the lives and sincerely hope they grow from strength to strength.
    Thank you Lucille! 😊


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