‘Bitter Sweet Arrivals’
©Alvin Kofi – Kofi Arts (2018)
Hand constructed, papier-mâché, mixed media, suitcase installation
The suitcase installation, ‘Bitter Sweet Arrivals’, is part of ‘Rooted’; a creative project conceived by Alvin Ferris of Kofi Arts which aims to document and present the journey of African-Caribbean communities in the UK through a series of papier-mâché installations constructed from the stories and narratives across a cultural divide.
Within the many suitcases that arrived at the docks, railways and stations in the UK from 1948 with the arrival of the SS Windrush Empire at Tilbury, African Caribbean people brought all their worldly possessions.
They arrived to a grey misty monotone Britain with their colour-saturated memories of home carrying with them the hopes and dreams of building a future in a motherland that had called for their assistance in reconstruction after the war. They held a firm belief that they belonged to a colonial family; connected to a greater commonwealth that bore the heavy social and economic burdens of slavery and Empire.
In contrast to the Pathé News reels celebrating their arrival, Windrush disembarkees were met with a bitter sweet and fleeting welcome that singed the air of an England entrenched in racism.
But those colour-filled memories of home never died and over time with each generation's deep passion, ingenuity and desire, their vibrancy slowly permeated the greyness of conservative British culture to make the UK the colourful multifaceted society that it is today.