Caribbean Takeaway Takeover in Essex.


The Caribbean take away is an important cultural meeting place in the Caribbean community. A home from home, the kitchen is where meals are prepared, but also where stories are exchanged and shared. Going back to African roots, cooking and the Dutch pot or cooking pot was the central place for the family activity. The takeaway has just as much cultural importance as the barbershop and the hairdressing salon for black communities living and working in the UK.

Evewright Arts Foundation (EAF) has decided to take over and appropriate
the only Caribbean owned takeaway in Colchester Essex in order to create
an exciting art and sound installation to celebrate the 70th anniversary of
the landing of the SS Empire Windrush in Tilbury Essex in June 1948.

Ten selected Caribbean elders who arrived in the UK between the 1940’s-1960’s shared their stories with the public using voice and sound recordings. Their stories reveal their journeys, the impact of their contribution to British society and their legacy.

Artist EVEWRIGHT will create a further intervention in the takeaway café space creating special limited-edition portraits of the participants using photo etching as a medium. This project, Identities and Stories Caribbean Takeaway Takeover, is to be exhibited free to the public at S&S Caribbean Café & Takeaway, a focus for the black community in Colchester.

The space will be taken over, repurposed and transformed into art installation where sound recordings of the elder’s stories are played throughout the day during the weekend. The takeaway will continue to function as an eatery allowing visitors an opportunity to sample Caribbean cuisine. The installation will remain in situ for a further month. Over the opening weekend programmed spoken word events will take place on the Saturday. Members of the public can pop in and view the exhibition. Visitors will be encouraged to commemorate their own parent’s arrival by adding their names to a memorial wall, they can also add their stories to our memory box. It will be a place to takeaway a slice of culture and learn about the lives of Essex Caribbean elders.

A website as a resource will be launched and once the project is completed members of the public can access the full audio recordings at Essex Records Office in Chelmsford Essex.

Artist EVEWRIGHT, said: “This will be the first time such an exhibition will be hosted in this unique setting giving a platform to people whose untold stories can be shared with the wider community.”

The ten elders who shared their stories live in or have connections to Essex. They are, Alford Gardner, Albertina (Tina) Aparicio, Carlton Darrell, Nelzine (Nell) Green, Don Sydney, Carol Sydney, Lenore Sykes, Alton Watkins, Gloria Whyte and Hamilton Williams.

Photo: SS Empire Windrush passenger Alford Gardner passport photograph
© EVEWRIGHT all rights reserved 2018

One participant Alford Gardner joined the war effort as a Royal Airforce (RAF) recruit in 1943 and was demobbed back to Jamaica in 1947. He returned to England as one of the few original passengers still alive today who travelled on the SS Empire Windrush from Jamaica to Tilbury Essex in 1948. At aged 92 Alford can remember his journey and his life vividly. Alford said he was, “proud that a man who wouldn’t learn British history is now history.”

There are many more stories from men and women who worked as midwives, nurses, post office worker, teachers, professional singer, factory workers and mechanics.

The National Lottery funded project was created by EAF Project Director Artist EVEWRIGHT and co-ordinated by Project Manager Ionie Richards who is a writer and historian.

Ionie Richards said, “It was a rewarding experience for us to work with young volunteers to meet and listen to the lives of ordinary but extraordinary people. Most participants were in their 80’s or 90’s so this project will help towards building a local archive of first-hand accounts of stories of a disappearing generation before it is lost.”

This project will encourage dialogue and increase understanding of this period in history and the contribution that these pioneers from the Windrush generation has made to Britain.