In collaboration with Caribbean Faces
Traditionally Caribbean: The Sitting Room
“The ‘sitting room’ is an inherently Caribbean phenomenon, if you were privileged enough to have a room just for show. This is where the older generation of Caribbeans would showcase all their fine glasses, China, dishes and trinkets acquired over the years. The frilly lace doilies, display cabinets, tropical fish & ornaments appear in the homes of many of the older Jamaican community- it’s sad that our generation and that of our parents don’t seem to carry on this tradition. I see it as the way Caribbeans would show their hard work and pride in their homes. I never met a Jamaican who isn’t house proud. I remember the sitting only being reserved for special company like the church brothers and sisters when my grandparents hosted bible study (although I also remember making myself disappear so I didn’t have to sit in on bible study!)
I take pride in the fact that I descend from enslaved Africans who survived the greatest tragedy on the earth. It gives me great comfort to know that I have the blood of rebellious, resourceful & resilient ancestors running through my veins. My connection to Jamaica has been instilled in me by my great grandparents, who never fully assimilated when they came to Britain, the decor of their sitting room still represents the life of a Caribbean family who first emigrated to Britain. The old school feel keeps me grounded so that I remember my roots, and appreciate the struggles and sacrifices of my ancestors and those who came after.” ~ Quel Paris (Instagram: @minduplivin )
Many thanks to Quel Paris and her family for allowing me to photograph their home.
I had the pleasure of visiting and photographing a very inspirational individual- Danjuma Bihari- who is always a source of knowledge for me. His sitting room epitomises what my project, Caribbean Faces, is all about: those who love their Caribbean Heritage, but are educated in their ancestry. The pimiento plant and the steelpan remind me of the Islands, while traditional North and West African and Middle Eastern furniture and artefacts add to the rich atmosphere of this sitting room. It’s Motherland meets Grandmotherland- as Uncle Danjuma puts it.
“The coffee pot in sharpest focus is called a kuwaitiyya; a type specific to Oman- the grandfather country. So motherland meets grandmotherland.” ~ D.Bihari
Traditionally Caribbean: The Food
One thing Caribbeans love is our food! And we have a variety of dishes that are birthed from a variety of cultures. These dishes have been adapted over the years and given a ‘Caribbean Twist’. From curries to soups and broths, Caribbean food always feels like ‘home.’
London has many food establishments that offer traditional Caribbean food- jerk chicken, roti, doubles- you name it! Aside from food, they often have an authentic ‘back home’ feel. ‘Ochi Caribbean Takeaway’ is one of these places. Established 15 years ago, it is one of the most popular Caribbean Restaurants in London. I learnt about this place during a super inspiring Caribbean Faces photoshoot. Not only was the guy behind the counter kind enough to let us shoot inside the restaurant, he also let me photograph him! I will definitely be going back to sample the food!
Another inspiring food establishment I had the pleasure of shooting in was ‘Trini Doubles’ in Watford. Opened by a Trinidadian, the chain started in Barbados and moved over to the UK. They provide traditional Trinidadian street food which is also vegan, emphasising that a traditional Caribbean diet consists of more vegetables than meat. I would highly recommend this place!