The Exhibition

Dorcas Stories from the Front Room celebrates 75 years of Windrush, tracing its history and future legacy through stories of textile crafts and fashion, Dorcas Clubs and the symbolic ‘Caribbean front room’.

For many of the Windrush generation their crafting stories decorate the front room but are also made in the front room. This is especially seen through textile networks such as the Dorcas Clubs, which operated in the Black-led churches, many of which have roots in Birmingham.

The exhibition was co-curated with Rose Sinclair.

Visit the exhibition

Now the exhibition is finished you can take a virtual tour.

The exhibition journeys through three distinct spaces and time zones, from the arrival of The Empire Windrush in 1948 through several decades later to where Windrush descendants, contemporary creatives repurpose their craft inheritance to claim 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.

The exhibition includes work by photographer Vanley Burke, Althea McNish, Tihara Smith, Daniel Gayle and Norma Banton.

It also features a collectively made textile artwork made with Caribbean residents at Pannel Croft Retirement Village in Birmingham and artists Dawn Denton and Annette Ratti. It depicts 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.

a Black woman rests her elbows on a table in a studio and looks at the camera. There are spools of thread, a box of yarn and other textiles and tools around her.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to stories of black knitters in Birmingham.

Made possible with Heritage Fund.

Where Next?

Dorcas Stories: Windrush Arrivals (1948 to 1962)

Finding craftspeople on the Windrush.

Evelyn Wauchop's landing card. A recreation of the card with her name and 'stowaway' written on it.

Dorcas Stories: We are Here to Stay (1962 to the 1980’s)

Stories of Caribbean immigrants.

In the foreground, part of a dress with a graphic bamboo pattern on it. In the blurred background is a sewing machine and a vintage handbag.

Dorcas Stories: Windrush Futures

Stories of the Windrush legacy.

Three women stand in a line with their backs to the camera and the sky visible in the background.

Dorcas Stories: Who or What is Dorcas?

Read about the history of Dorcas groups.

A bright vintage magazine with an illustrated cover showing a cotton reel, paint palette and rolling pin. Along side are a Dorcas label on a sewn item and a pin tin branded Dorcas.


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