In “Home is where the art is,” Michael McMillan explains his motives for creating his new book, The Front Room, stressing the role these rooms have had in shaping identity for Caribbean immigrant families in the U.K. He previously curated the West Indian Front Room, an exhibition and installation at the Geffrye Museum in East London in 2005-06. The author speaks about how the front room affected him as a child, whose parents were from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and how his exhibition “resonated emotionally on an inter-generational level beyond simply the black British domestic homes but with other migrant diasporas.” His book explores these resonances further, looking into the hybridity of a space reflecting West Indian and English tastes, and the multiple significations of the West Indian front room.
McMillan explains: “Colonialism meant that my parents’ generation was imbued with English culture, and they saw themselves as British citizens coming to the ‘Mother Country.’ Many West Indian migrants eventually acquired homes and created front rooms in which they could express their social and cultural values. As sociologist and broadcaster Stuart Hall tells us: “The front room is a conservative element of black domestic life, which is more complex and rich than the generality of the society ever realises.’”
For a look at The Front Room, see http://thefrontroom.org/
Photo and article on The West Indian Front Room exhibition, see http://www.itzcaribbean.com/west_indian_exhibition.php