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Tihara Smith's Wall Art Design Workshop at the V&A

Join me for an exciting design workshop at the V&A...

The Windrush Generation has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of the UK, and their contributions deserve to be celebrated. To honour their legacy, I’ve been working with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London to create a special drop-in design workshop for families to create their own Celebration Wall Art inspired by the Caribbean. This workshop is a unique opportunity to celebrate the Caribbean culture and pay homage to the Windrush Generation in a creative way, suitable for families with children from 5 years old upwards. As a designer, I am passionate about celebrating my Caribbean heritage through my work and I am excited to share it with V&A visitors through this workshop. I hope this workshop provides a platform for families to engage with Caribbean culture and create their unique piece of wall art. From vibrant colours to bold patterns, the workshop promises to be an exciting and immersive experience. I hope you will be able to join me at the Victoria & Albert Museum and celebrate the Windrush Generation in a creative and meaningful way.

Celebrate the Windrush Generation and the Caribbean with Tihara Smith's Drop-in Design Wall Art Workshop at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London

About the Victoria & Albert Museum in London

The Victoria and Albert Museum, commonly referred to as the V&A, is one of the most iconic cultural institutions. Located in the heart of London, it is one of the largest museums of decorative arts and design in the world, with a collection spanning over 5000 years of human creativity. The museum is home to over 2.8 million objects, ranging from fashion, ceramics, glass, jewellery, furniture, textiles, paintings, sculpture, and photography.

Founded in 1852, the V&A has been a major source of inspiration for designers, artists, and creatives for many years. It is a hub of creativity, with a mission to inspire, educate, and enrich the lives of its visitors. The museum has over 145 galleries, each dedicated to a specific period, style, or theme, making it a treasure trove of art and design.

Image of V&A building

The Victoria and Albert Museum is located in South Kensington, London and is easily accessible by public transport. Visitors can explore the museum's extensive collection of art, design, and fashion from around the world, including works by some of the most famous designers and artists in history. The museum is known for its stunning architecture, which includes the iconic John Madejski Garden, a beautiful courtyard that provides a peaceful oasis in the heart of the museum, and where this workshop will be held. 

One of the things that make the Victoria and Albert Museum stand out is its commitment to education and outreach. The museum hosts a range of activities and events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and family-friendly activities. This Drop-in Design: Celebration Wall Art workshop is one example of the many family-friendly events happening at the V&A.

About Tihara Smith

This creative drop-in workshop for families, has been created by me, Tihara Smith, in collaboration with the V&A team. I am an artist and designer inspired by my Caribbean heritage and the Windrush Generation. In 2018 I graduated from a fashion degree from the University for the Creative Arts Epsom and presented my Windrush inspired collection at Graduate Fashion Week. An outfit from my graduate collection was acquired by the Museum of London in 2021 to help preserve and tell the Windrush story to present and future visitors.

Image from Windrush Collection photoshoot
Photography by Kayleigh Pace

Since graduating, I wanted to continue to explore my Caribbean heritage and share what I learn with others, so I founded an eponymous fashion, accessories and lifestyle brand. All the products are designed by me and inspired by the Caribbean, with a London twist. Our current product range includes greeting cards, gifts, stationery, wall hangings and accessories.

I’m so excited to share my knowledge of design, textiles and the Caribbean with the families who drop-in to these workshops at the V&A and hope they all take their wall art home to hang up to celebrate the Windrush Generation and the beauty of the Caribbean with others!

The History & Importance of Celebrating the Windrush Generation

The Windrush Generation is is a term used to describe the mass migration of people who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971. They came from all over the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, St Lucia, Barbados, Guyana as well as other Caribbean countries. They were doctors, nurses, teachers, and other professionals who were eager to start a new life in Britain. 

The name "Windrush" comes from the ship that brought the first group of migrants to the UK in 1948, the Empire Windrush. At this time, Britain was still recovering from the destruction of World War 2 and needed help to rebuild the country and fill job shortages in several industries including manufacturing, construction, transport and the National Health Service (NHS). The British government actively encouraged and invited Caribbean people to come to the UK to work.

The Windrush generation faced many challenges upon their arrival in the UK, including racism and discrimination, and they had to work hard to overcome prejudice. Despite this, they made significant contributions to British society in various fields, including education, healthcare, sports, music and politics. They brought with them their culture, music, food, and traditions, which have had a lasting impact on British culture.

In recent years, the Windrush Generation has been in the news due to the Windrush scandal. In 2018, it was revealed that the Windrush Generation has been wrongfully deported, detained or denied access to healthcare and other essential services by Home Office. This scandal sparked outrage across the UK and led to a public inquiry, which ultimately revealed a systemic failure by the government to protect the rights of the Windrush Generation. The Windrush scandal is still ongoing. The Home Office is still identifying and compensating those who have been affected.

Following the reveal of the Windrush scandal, the Windrush Generation has been increasingly celebrated in recent years, and their contributions to Britain have been rightfully recognised. In 2018, the government launched Windrush Day to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush. Each year, on the 22nd June, the UK celebrates the Windrush Generation and their legacy, and this year, in 2023, we celebrate the 75th anniversary. 

The Windrush Generation is an important part of British history, and their contributions to the country should be celebrated. Their experiences have shaped the country we live in today, and we should continue to learn from their stories so that their legacy continues to inspire people for generations to come. There are many ways to celebrate Windrush Day. You can research the history of the Windrush Generation, take some time to reflect on the contributions they have made to British society, or attend an event like this workshop at the V&A to learn more and celebrate the Windrush Generation with others.

Importance of celebrating and preserving cultural heritage through art

Culture is an integral part of our identity and heritage. It reflects our traditions, values, and beliefs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Celebrating and preserving cultural heritage is crucial to keep our cultural legacies alive. 

Art is a powerful tool for celebrating and preserving cultural heritage in a way that is both beautiful and meaningful. Art is an effective medium to showcase cultural heritage as it provides a tangible representation of the values and beliefs that define a culture. It can be used to tell stories, share traditions, and connect people with their past. It helps to build a sense of community and identity - when people from a particular culture share in their art, it can help them to feel a sense of connection to their community and to their culture. 

Art can also be used to raise awareness of cultural issues and to promote understanding and respect between different cultures. Through art, we can educate people about our culture and traditions - it helps to bridge the gap between different cultures and helps promote mutual understanding and respect.

Using art to celebrate and preserve our cultural heritage can also be a source of inspiration, motivation, and entertainment for many people. It’s a way to learn about different cultures whilst simultaneously uplifting people's spirits and bringing joy to their lives. From paintings to sculptures, dances to music, every art form shows a unique aspect of our culture to be cherished and safeguarded for future generations. 

Art is a particularly effective way for children and families about cultures together. This workshop at the V&A hopes to help families learn about the Caribbean and Windrush Generation through creativity. Families will get the opportunity to create wall art using fabric and sewing, explore embroidery and create symbols inspired by objects from West Indian living rooms and objects from the Museum’s collection.

Drop-in Design: Celebration Wall Art V&A Workshop

About the workshop

This creative drop-in workshop will give families, with children from 5 years old upwards, the opportunity to create wall art inspired by the Caribbean. Throughout the workshop, alongside V&A staff, I will be present sharing my knowledge and experience of design and the Caribbean to help each family create their own celebration wall art! 

The workshop will be located at the museum’s site in South Kensington, and will provide a space for families to explore simple embroidery and create symbols inspired by objects from the West Indian living room and different objects from the Museum’s collection. 

At the end of the workshop, the families will be able to take their wall art home and hang it up to celebrate the Windrush Generation and the beauty of the Caribbean. 

The creative drop-in is a wonderful opportunity for families, in particular children, to learn new skills, experiment with embroidery, and learn with their family the importance of celebrating and preserving cultural heritage through art. It is also a great opportunity to learn more about the Windrush Generation as we approach the 75th Anniversary of Windrush, which takes place on 22 June. 

Workshop Details

This workshop will take place on two dates at the Victoria & Albert Museum - V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

May Half Term

🗓 Tuesday 30 May 2023

🕚 11:00 - 16:00

⛲️ The John Madejski Garden

Great Exhibition Road Festival

🗓 Sunday 18 June 2023

🕚 11:00 - 16:00

⛲️ The John Madejski Garden

This is a families event for adults to do with children; no child can be left unattended. Suitable for ages 5+. This workshop is free to attend.

Sources and Further Reading:

1. About the V&A. Read more

2. How Caribbean migrants helped to rebuild Britain Read more

3. Annual Day of Celebration for the Windrush Generation Read more

4. Photo by Marwan Muallemi on Unsplash

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