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Introducing By The Cut of Their Cloth

A collaboration between The Mixed Museum and Brent-based artist Warren Reilly, funded by the 'Being Brent' Heritage Wellbeing Fund 2021.

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COMING SOON: Our Digital Exhibition!

By The Cut of Their Cloth Coming Soon graphic

Our 'By The Cut of Their Cloth' digital exhibition will showcase all the wonderful findings and outputs from our project. We are excited to present our multiracial Brent archival discoveries, the mixed race histories of Brent residents shared during our Open Days, and the artwork inspired by these histories sent in during our Creative Call or created in our workshops. Have a look at our video made by the wonderful Justine Magdef Nasdy, to get a taste of what is coming your way. 

You can also read all about the project activities in the sections below.

The archival photographs featured in the video are from the Petersen Collection at Glamorgan Archives, and Butetown History and Arts Centre (material now hosted at The Heritage & Cultural Exchange Archive).

Poster advertising By the Cut of Their Cloth project. The letters BTCOTC are written in orange in large horizontal capitals. The words By the Cut of Their Cloth are written in black in smaller capitals next to them. A cut out photo of a couple taken in 1921 is shown. The woman is white and is sitting in a chair with her hands folded in her lap. She is wearing a white blouse and black skirt. A mixed race man of Black heritage is sat on the arm of the chair, leaning into her. He is wearing a coat over a suit and tie.
Poster advertising By the Cut of Their Cloth project. The letters BTCOTC are written in red in large horizontal capitals. The words By the Cut of Their Cloth are written in black in smaller capitals next to them. A cut out photo shows Warren Reilly, a mixed race man of Black heritage, in an art gallery. He posing in front of black and white abstract art pieces and is wearing an elaborate black robe and looking directly into the camera.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

By The Cut of Their Cloth (BTCOTC) is a collaborative project exploring Brent’s rich multiracial and mixed race history. OPEN CALLS - to the Public and Creatives - will be conducted to generate imagery and collect narratives that will encourage the local community to delve into family photos and work with relatives to explore and celebrate their own (and Brent’s) wider multicultural and mixed race past, with a particular focus on what the fashion in these photos can tell us about the sitters and the society they lived in.

Alongside our three PRACTICAL WORKSHOPS - visual research, photography and illustration/image making - we hope that the images and family histories uncovered by the project, as well as the outputs created, will contribute to existing archival collections, such as that held by The Mixed Museum, for future generations to study and enjoy. 

A digital exhibition, showcasing the journey and outputs of the project, will be hosted by The Mixed Museum in March 2022.

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December 2021:    Open Call for images (from public and creatives).

January 2021:         Open Days (15th-16th) hosted by the BTCOTC                                                                    team at The Library at Willesden Green. Share and                                                            discuss your images with us!

February 2021:       Creative practical workshops (14th, 16th & 18th). Using                                                FREE materials, work with Warren at The Library at Willesden                                      Green to produce artistic outputs inspired by your own or                                                Brent's multiracial history.

March 2021:            Digital exhibition showcasing the project's journey and                                                  outputs launches at The Mixed Museum.

To learn more, see the relevant sections as they are added below or contact us at: BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com.

FREE CREATIVE WORKSHOPS AT THE LIBRARY AT WILLESDEN GREEN!

14th - 18th February 2022

PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE MOOD BOARD WORKSHOP WILL NOW TAKE PLACE ON THURSDAY 17TH FEB 2022.

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https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_222566209_511720863019_1_original

Workshop 1:

16th February 2022 - ILLUSTRATION!

Create an illustration inspired by your own mixed race/multicultural family or take inspiration from historic families in Brent!

Are you fascinated by your own or Brent’s mixed-race or multicultural family history? Are you a Brent resident or have links to the area? Are you interested in fashion illustration or observational drawing? Then our ILLUSTRATION workshop is the one for you!

In this practical workshop, you will bring a photograph or personal possession from your family archive - or be inspired by the many colourful stories we have unearthed during research for the BTCOTC project – to use as a starting point point to create your own illustration and/or collage about the life and times of your family members or historical figures.

Promotional photo for the BTCOTC Illustration workshop. Image shows a man and woman dressed up in 18th century costumes. An illustration based on the photo is overlaid on the right. Caption reads Illustration Workshop.
Very old black and white image of a Chinese magician in traditional dress. His left arm is outstretched an dhe is looking down at a small table.
Father of Mac Fee Lung. Mac Fee married a Brent resident. ©The British Library Board. All rights reserved

With help from local artist Warren Reilly, you will use the image of your family member/historical figure, or the object that represents their life and identity, as a visual reference to draw from. We will discuss various options in the workshop that you could use to create your artwork, including continuous line drawing and mark making in conjunction with layering using photocopies and secondary resources from magazines and newspapers. By the end of the workshop, you will have either an illustration, collage or mixed media artwork that is designed to celebrate Brent’s mixed race and multicultural history.

The BTCOTC Illustration workshop takes place on Wednesday 16th February from 17.00-19.00. FREE but booking required. 

Recommended age: 15+ (Children under 15 MUST be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the workshop).

To book: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/btcotc-free-illustration-workshop-tickets-260959485847

Workshop 2:

17th February 2022 - MOOD BOARD!

Bring a photograph or personal possession from your family archive or explore historical Brent figures to create your own mood board!

Are you fascinated by your own or Brent’s mixed-race or multicultural family history? Are you a Brent resident or have links to the area? Have you ever wanted to explore history through creative practice? Then our MOOD BOARD workshop is the one for you! 

In this practical workshop at The Library at Willesden Green, you will bring a photograph or personal possession from your family archive or be inspired by the many colourful stories we have unearthed during research for the BTCOTC project to use as a starting point to create a mood board about the life and times of your family members or historical figures.

A mood board of images of old family photos. Caption reads Moodboard Workshop.
Artwork by Warren Reilly.
Artwork by Warren Reilly.

With help from local Brent-based artist Warren Reilly, you will pull references from the images to help gain insights into your own or Brent’s mixed race and multicultural history. By the end of the workshop, you will have a finished mood board which you can continue to add to or refine in your own time.

All art materials, fabrics and research resources will be provided, but these may be limited so we also encourage you to bring your own! Printing costs are also free of charge during this workshop, which is kindly sponsored by The Library at Willesden Green.

The BTCOTC Mood Board workshop takes place on Wednesday 16th February from 17.00-19.00. FREE but booking required. Recommended age: 15+ (Children under 15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the workshop).

Book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/btcotc-free-mood-board-workshop-tickets-260955895107

 

Workshop 3:

27th February 2022- PHOTOGRAPHY!

Are you fascinated by your own or Brent’s mixed-race or multicultural family history? Are you a Brent resident or have links to the area? Are you passionate about fashion, styling and image-making? Then our photography workshop is the one for you! 

In this practical workshop, you will bring a photograph or personal possession from your family archive or be inspired by the many colourful stories we have unearthed during research for the BTCOTC project to use as a starting point to create your own styled and composed photoshoot about the life and times of your family members or the historical figures of Brent. 

Promotional poster for photograpy workshop. A young girl dressed up in 18th century costume poses in a room also dressed to look like the 18th century. The words Photography Workshop border the image. The Being Brent logo appears in the left hand top corner and the word FREE in the right hand corrner.
Image of a young mixed race girl in side profile. She is dressed in 18th century costume and the photograph is surrounded by a gilt frame.
Artwork by Warren Reilly.

With help from local artist Warren Reilly, you will pull references from the images/objects to help gain insights into your own or Brent’s mixed race and multicultural history and how you can use this to take inspiration within your very own photoshoot. By the end of the workshop, you will have a series of photographs on your digital device (mobile phone, DSLR etc) as well as a disposable film camera (provided by us) which you take away with you after the workshop and use to further develop your ideas (disposable film camera costs also covered by us). Your photos may also end up as part of the BTCOTC digital exhibition!

The BTCOTC PHOTOGRAPHY workshop takes place on Sunday 27th February from 12.00-16.00. FREE but booking required.

Recommended age: 15+ (Children under 15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the workshop).

To book: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/btcotc-free-photography-workshop-tickets-265034484277

WORKSHOP INFORMATION

If you want to take part in any of the workshops, you must bring a photograph (copy or original) that represents your own or Brent's mixed-race/multicultural history.

For example:

  • Family Photograph
  • Item of Jewellery
  • Item of Clothing (scarves, hats, occasion wear)
  • Article from Newspapers, Magazines or Journals
  • Official Document/file
  • Furniture, Ornament, Paintings or other Heirlooms.

Pleaes note that we cannot be held responsible for any damage of or theft to your property.

EXTRA NOTES for the PHOTOGRAPHY workshop.

Disposable cameras will be provided alongside a selection of art materials & fabrics. However, as these may be limited, please feel free to bring your own items to supplement your shoot. For example:

  • A mobile phone/digital or DSLR camera
  • Make up/jewellery/wigs/shoes
  • Fabrics/clothing/costumes to drape on the body or to create the set around you.
  • Your illustration/mood board from our previous workshops (if you attended) OR any ideas you wish to explore yourself on your own mood board.

You do not have to be from a mixed-race family to take part in our workshops!

If you would like to produce a mood board based on one of the figures from mixed race and multicultural families we have been researching during By The Cut of Their Cloth then you can participate in the project using them as inspiration. You might wish to look at well-known Brent figures, such as Zadie Smith, or those from lesser-known Brent stories, such as Ram Singh Nehra and his wife Myfanwy, or Princess Omdutel Aurau Begum buried at Paddington Cemetery. We can provide a list of choices and resources if this is the case – email us before the workshop (BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com) for more information.

Refreshments

Due to the regulations of the Library at Willesden Green, there are no public water fountains available within the building so please ensure you have bought all that you need to sustain you during the workshops. There are many shops nearby where you can buy something to drink. You are more than welcome to drink during your workshop, but food is not permitted. We kindly ask you not to leave for reason of refreshment unless absolutely necessary or during the offical break time in order not to disturb the running of the workshops.

Please note: the workshops will take place in the performance space at The Library.

Outputs

We may wish to include your finished outputs in our exhibition, or feature you in our forthcoming exhibition. With your permission, we may also wish to photograph or film your participation.

Any member of the public who wishes to participate in our workshop will need to complete our consent form so we can make sure that the information you have shared with the BTCOTC team can safely be included in the digital exhibition at The Mixed Museum or in our archive collections. You may do this before, during or after the workshop takes place using the form which we will send out to you prior to the event.

 

Covid safety regulations

Covid safety regulations will be enacted in accordance to the policy of The Library at Willesden Green. Please see the information on the Eventbrite workshop pages or contact The Library for more details.

We are happy to answer any questions about any aspect of the workshops or the project in general, either in person or by email. Contact us at BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com.

 

OPEN CALLS!

Our 'Brent Family Archives', 'Brent Creatives' and 'Family Researchers' Open Calls are now live!

OPEN CALL 1: Family Archives

Brent residents! Share your family photos to help us learn more about Brent’s mixed race and multicultural history!

The BTCOTC project is looking to preserve and celebrate the mixed-race and multicultural histories of Brent residents. Can your family photos help us learn more about Brent’s diverse racial past?

We are using fashion as a lens to help us understand and display overlooked interracial family stories of Brent. So, as well as photos of family members we would love to see your images of jewellery, garments, ornaments, or other family belongings that represent and celebrate the coming together of different races and cultures in Brent families!

A selection of submitted photos will be displayed as part of the BTCOTC digital exhibition hosted by The Mixed Museum in March 2022. For more details or to submit photos, contact us: BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF IMAGES: 27 FEBRUARY 2022.

📸 Poster image courtesy of Glamorgan Archives 

🖥 Graphic Design by Jenny BM: https://jennybmartist.wixsite.com/jennybmdesigns

A poster for the By The Cut of Their Cloth project. The Being Brent logo is in the top left. The caption reads Open Call BTCOTC - Family Archives. Below is a studio portrait of a mixed race family, taken in the early twentieth century. The Black father is wearing a pin striped suit and waistcoat. He is standing with an arm rested on the chair of the white mother who is wearing a formal black long-sleeved dress. Next to them is a small mixed race boy wearing a formal sailor suit type jacket.
BTCOTH Open Call for Creatives poster showing the mixed race artist Warren Reilly and a young mixed race woman dressed up in eighteenth century clothing and posing for a studio portrait.

OPEN CALL 2: Brent Creatives

Share your creative work on Brent’s mixed race and multiracial history as part of our By The Cut of Their Cloth (BTCOTC) exhibition!

The BTCOTC project is also looking to showcase the work of artists, photographers, filmmakers, fashion/textile designers and other creatives based in or from the London Borough of Brent.

BTCOTC is working with Brent residents to turn their interracial family photographs and outputs from three creative workshops into a digital exhibition hosted by The Mixed Museum in March 2022. We would also love to feature your existing or new work inspired by Brent’s mixed race and multicultural history as part of the exhibition.

If you would like to submit a piece for display, please contact us at BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF ARTWORK: 27 FEBRUARY 2022.

📸 Poster image courtesy of Warren Reilly 

🖥 Graphic Design by Jenny BM: https://jennybmartist.wixsite.com/jennybmdesigns

OPEN CALL 3: Volunteers

Family history researchers! We would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering their time to help us uncover Brent's mixed race family histories.

We have a few fascinating leads from newspapers and archives that we’re keen to learn more about in time for our exhibition in March. If you have experience of and access to online genealogical sites and would be able to spare a few hours, we would be very grateful if you could track down any additional information on some of the accounts we’ve uncovered. These include:

A mood board of images of old family photos. Caption reads BTCOTC Open Call Volunteers
  • A Chinese acrobat in Edwardian Britain charged with deserting his Willesden-based Welsh wife, who he said had become ‘too stout’ to perform one of his stage acts.
  • A Black man from Kilburn who, at the end of the nineteenth-century, was reported as wanting custody of the children he had had with his white wife.
  • A white waitress who met her wealthy Indian Muslim husband at the 1924 Wembley exhibition and moved to Bhopal with him after their three month engagement.
  • A Black doctor sued in Willesden Court in the pre-WW1 era for getting his wife’s servant pregnant.

We also have the mystery of the 'Black man’ of Neasden Stud Farm in the 1890s. Labelled as such in a photo at Brent Archives, is he actually a man of colour at all or is this rather an error made at some point during the archival process? But if so, why? We would love to know!

A group of four people posing for the camera on the lawn outside a large house in 1890s Neasden. One woman is seated slightly apart from the other three. The other woman stands next to a man who is seated in a chair with a small child on his lap.
'Large house with group of people on lawn, including a black man. 1890s'. Courtesy Brent Museum and Archives.
Close up of the man labelled 'a black man' in the Neasden stud farm picture.
Close up of the man labelled 'a black man' in the Neasden stud farm image

If you think you could spare some time to help us look into any of these accounts, please do get in touch!: BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com

📸 Poster image courtesy of Kylie McNulty 

🖥 Graphic Design by Warren Reilly

OPEN DAYS!

Our Open Days were held on 15-16th January 2022.

Poster advertising the BTCOTC Open Day. A young mixed race man gazes into the camera. Overlaid around his face are historical images of mixed race families. The photo is set in a yellow background with the words BTCOTC and Open Day surrounding the photo.

Inspired by television programmers such as Antiques Roadshow and Fake or Fortune, our online Open Days on the 15th and 16th January 2022 invite Brent residents to delve into their attics, cupboards and family photo albums and tell us about any images and personal possessions that illustrate their mixed race and multicultural family histories.

We are also keen to hear from Brent-based creatives who have made or are engaging with work that resonates with our project theme.

Originally scheduled to be held in-person at Willesden Library, due to Covid restrictions the event will now take place via Zoom. Book your private conversation with the BTCOTC team here!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/by-the-cut-of-their-cloth-open-day-tickets-231641404677

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE OPEN DAY?

Due to Covid restrictions, we are now inviting residents to share their images, objects and memories with us via Zoom rather than in person at Willesden Library.

We politely ask you to book one of our 45 minute slots via Eventbrite to join our Zoom room so we can conduct our conversations with each visitor on a 1 to 1 basis. In the private Zoom room, members of the BTCOTC team will ask you questions about your items, including where your image or object is from.

During the Zoom session, we will mark the place/origin of your images and objects on our three maps of Brent, the UK and the world. We will be carrying out this task on your behalf during your interview, noting down your thoughts, feelings and memories which we will collect at the end of the event and pin onto our maps to locate its origins. The completed maps and tags will be photographed and scanned for potential inclusion in our digital exhibition or the collections of The Mixed Museum and Brent Museums and Archives.

 

You may also be asked if you would like to arrange an in-person meeting (once restrictions have eased) with Creative Director Warren Reilly so that he can photograph and record your objects for use in our digital exhibition or the collections of The Mixed Museum and Brent Museums and Archives.

If you are willing, we would love to record your account for potential use in our exhibition but there is no obligation to agree!

 

Image of pins on a world map
Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash.

WHAT ARE WE INTERESTED IN?

BRENT RESIDENTS: We are interested in any of the following that tell a story of your family’s or Brent’s mixed race or multicultural history. For example:

  • Family Photographs and Albums
  • Personal Possessions
  • Items of Jewellery
  • Items of Clothing (scarves, hats, occasion wear)
  • Articles from Newspapers, Magazines or Journals
  • Official Documents/Files
  • Furniture, Ornaments, Paintings or other Heirlooms.
A young mixed race woman poses during the late 1960s at home in a sari next to her white middle aged white mother, dressed in black.
Julia and Emily, 1966. Reproduced with permission of the Nehra family.
Negative image showing a mixed race girl dressed in period costume
Untitled negative. Copyright Warren Reilly.

 

BRENT CREATIVES: In addition to showing us your work, it might be useful to think about the following before our conversation with you:

  • How did you create the work?
  • What is the medium of the work?
  • Who did/does the item belong to?
  • What are your own memories / experiences attached to this item?
  • How does this work represent your own or Brent’s mixed-race/multicultural history?

 

REFRESHMENTS

We had intended to provide refreshments at the in-person event but unfortunately due to Covid requirements this is now not possible. However, feel free to make yourself a hot drink during the meeting should this make you feel more at ease (as long as there is no risk of you damaging the item you are showing us)!

CONSENT

Any member of the public who wishes to contribute their story or image to the Open Day will need to complete our open day consent form so we can make sure that the information you have shared with the BTCOTC team can safely be included in the digital exhibition at The Mixed Museum or in our archive collections. You may do this before, during or after the Open Day takes place using the form which we will send out to you prior to the event.

We are happy to answer any questions about how your material and personal details will be used, either in person or by email via BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com.

WHAT WILL BE THE OUTCOMES OF THE BTCOTC OPEN DAYS?

Some of the narratives and images shared with the BTCOTC project team at the Open Days will be curated into our digital exhibition hosted by The Mixed Museum. The material collected at the Open Days may also be used in our February half term art and design workshops as talking points or creative inspiration. Our film maker will also use material from the Open Days to create a series of short videos about both the project and Brent’s wider mixed race and multicultural history.

Material may also be offered to Brent Museum and Archives for inclusion in their collections. Additionally, some of the images donated to the project may be used in an installation to celebrate the launch of the exhibition at Alperton Studios.

All uses of material offered will be for non-profit and educational use only.

We do hope that you will join us for this free and fun Zoom community event!

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us: BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com.

 

Originally scheduled to be held in-person at Willesden Library, due to Covid restrictions the event will now take place via Zoom. Book your private conversation with the BTCOTC team here!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/by-the-cut-of-their-cloth-open-day-tickets-231641404677

Information on our 'By The Cut of Their Cloth' Digital Exhibition coming soon!

 

In the meantime, you can follow us on Instagram: 

#BTCOTC
@foh.brent
@themixedmuseum

Or contact us at: BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com

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