The smells of cooking from all around the world permeate the terraced streets of Smethwick.
Behind the doors I discovered how families and individuals adapt and personalize these
historical homes in creative and diverse ways.
Through intimate portraits of individuals and families, Liz Hingley celebrates and documents the cultural diversity and the home cooking fusions of people living in the Victorian terraces of Smethwick, one of the most culturally diverse towns in England.
As well as being a reception area for newly arrived immigrants, Smethwick is a longstanding neighbourhood of Irish, Sikh, Muslim, Afro-Caribbean and White British communities. For this project, we worked with local organisation, Brushstrokes, so that Multistory and Liz could spend time getting to know the residents. We were welcomed into people’s homes and invited to share food they cooked from special recipes, passed down from generation to generation.
By asking the simple question ‘what is your favourite family recipe?’, Liz drew out incredible life stories and discovered the complex journeys that had brought people from every continent to Smethwick.
I was interested to see how the traditional Victorian terraced houses, which were built en masse for industrial workers, have been transformed to suit cultures and tastes from around the world. On initial wanderings, I found the densely populated streets surprisingly quiet. However, the intense, sensory experience of exotic cooking smells pervading the air was like an olfactory calling from behind closed doors.
I was generously welcomed into homes and given the unique opportunity to taste personal dishes embedded with meanings and associations for families and individuals.
This series celebrates the social heritage and culinary richness of Smethwick today, and so reveals another perspective on the migration experience.
A selection of photographs from the project is currently touring six libraries across Sandwell (Smethwick, Wednesbury, Oldbury, Tipton, Blackheath, Central Library) until 10 July 2017. To celebrate the opening at each library there will be an afternoon tea with homemade bread made by Albert, a project participant. For more details see Events.
Home Made in Smethwick, a book combining Liz’s portraits and favourite family dishes, along with hand-written recipes is now available to buy here. We hosted a celebratory event for all participants and their friends, family and favourite dish to launch the book on 12 August, 2016. The project has been commissioned and produced by Multistory.
For further information see Press Release.
Liz Hingley (born 1985) is a British photographer and anthropologist. She is known for her work ‘Under Gods’ which was published in 2010 and her more recent project ‘The Jones Family‘, for which she received a Getty Image Grant.