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Dorcas Stories from the Front Room

Textile narratives, then and now. A Craftspace exhibition co-curated with Dr Rose Sinclair.

Where: Mailbox, Level 2

Showing dates: 23rd September to 29th October 2023, Weds – Sun, 1-6pm

Dorcas Stories from the Front Room celebrates 75 years of Windrush, its enduring and future legacy, through the lens of textile crafts, fashion and Dorcas Clubs. Co-curated by Dr Rose Sinclair it references the ‘Caribbean front room’ to tell the story of Dorcas Clubs which brought women together through textiles to act as networks for social and economic change.

Three distinct spaces and narratives will take visitors on a journey through time from the arrival of Windrush in 1948 through to the contemporary textile and fashion creatives who are re-shaping identity and cultural expression. Exhibits include; re-constructed Windrush landing cards, archival material, domestic textiles, historical garments, photographs, contemporary textiles/fashion and a collectively made community textile, audio stories and film.

A community project has been running alongside the development of the installation. Textile artists Dawn Denton and Annette Ratti have facilitated a textile project with Caribbean residents at Pannel Croft Retirement Village in Birmingham to draw on their stories and create a new collectively made textile depicting their work roles, professions and that of their families, building a picture of the impacts and reach of Caribbean people on public life and culture in the UK.

Craftspace is partnering the Centre for Diversity, Inclusion and Access in the Arts (CEDIA) at Birmingham City University to develop teaching and learning materials arising from Dorcas Stories which de-colonise the curriculum.

The project addresses two aims: educating people about the Windrush story and fostering a greater sense of pride and recognition of the contributions made by UK Caribbean communities to UK society. The exhibition ensures creative expertise, material culture, heritage and stories of Windrush people and their descendants are documented, shared, better understood and valued.