Wednesday 17 August 2022

A fascinating Brent Exhibition on our links with colonialism, and our multi-racial and mixed heritage history - and you can visit without leaving home!


'By The Cut of Their Cloth' is a virtual exhibition that enables you to explore the story of Brent's multi-racial and mixed heritage history (1) and the links with colonialism (2).

You can browse different exhibits and go deeper into topics that interest you by clicking on the images that you will find on the website at:

These are some of the images that lead you deeper into the virtual exhibition:


(1)   In her note at the front of her book  'MIXED/OTHER' (Trapeze) Natalie Morris explores terminology and concludes:

I'll briefly lay out why I stuck with 'mixed' over some of the other possible descriptions that I considered. First, bi-racial: this term is too limited for what I am exploring in this book, as some people who are mixed have more than two different ethnicities in their heritage. Next, multiracial: this covers the different possible groups, but I want to avoid language that overtly uses 'race' as part of that description. Dual heritage, again has limits in focusing on duality. Multiheritage: this is defintely a viable alternative option, but my unfamiliarity with the term and the fact that it isn't commonly used in the UK discouraged me.

What follows  is a subtle discussion of the mixed experience in the UK and how attitudes towards mixed people has changed over recent decades. Enriched by many interviews with a diversity of people it is clear that this is a multi-dimensional topic with a multitude of different histories and viewpoints. Thorny topics such as 'colourism' and 'passing' are tackled.

(2) For an accessible account of colonialism I strongly recommend the graphic story by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Cole Henley, 'You're Thinking about Tomatoes' (Unbound).  On a class trip to a stately home a primary pupil, who isn't doing well at school is bored with the worksheet he has to complete.  A voice calls from a classic painting and turns out to be a Black girl, concealed from the public, who steps out to guide him through Chiltern House, accompanied by other characters, and shows him the true history of colonialism.  

Rosen's story is engaging, never preachy, and aided by the lively illustrations, imparts an awful lot of knowledge in a throughly entertaining but thoughtful way.

The book is published by Unbound, the world's first crowdfunding publisher, established in 2011.  It is a platform that brings together readers and authors. Hundreds of people contributed to crowdfund 'You're Thinking About Tomatoes'.

I recommend that every Brent primary school orders a copy.

No comments: