Francis Williams: The Jamaican Scholar in His Indigo Blue Coat

Saturday 8 July

Come along and explore Caribbean craft making practices in a modern pop-up participatory workshop led by Dr Rose Sinclair, that interrogates and responds to the life situation of the Black 18th century Jamaican aristocrat Francis Williams.


Using the painted portrait and a pattern you will design your own bespoke hand-crafted coat, giving Francis a new freedom and identity to exist and examine his life today. This will allow Francis to transcend time by walking backwards into the future where new stories begin.

Through talks, tours, and deep dive examination we discuss migration, identity, and attempts at settlement to create an insight into Francis’ life, his experiences of the plantocracy, and the wealth he amassed through an uncomfortable truth.

We shall explore the textiles and craft making practices developed through Caribbean women’s networks, including Dorcas Clubs and Societies. These were the spaces for intergenerational conversations and knowledge exchanges of unique crafting styles that they brought with them to the UK.

Rose Sinclair is a Lecturer in Design (Textiles) and Design Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, with a passion for textiles combined with stories that can be told through cloth, especially those often absent from the design discourse. Her PhD research focuses on Black British women and the diaspora and their crafting practices and making networks, and relationships between amateur and professional makers. Rose’s current publications include “Tracing back to trace forwards: What does it mean/take to be a Black textile designer” in Elaine Igoe (ed.) Textile Design Theory in the Making (Bloomsbury, 2021), and “Does Design do Race” in Alison Hardy (ed.), Debates in Design & Technology Education (2nd edn., Routledge, Dec. 2022).

Images – Left: Anonymous portrait of Francis Williams of Jamaica, oil on canvas. By an unknown Jamaican, British or American painter, ca.1740 & Right: Dr Rose Sinclair. Courtesy of Dr Rose Sinclair