We Are Family

Touring Exhibition

This pop-up exhibition of material from The Multistory Collection toured libraries and community centres across Sandwell, exploring ‘family’ through stories and images of local people.

Ask someone to think of a family and you might be able to predict their reply: a dad, a mom and two children, maybe one boy and one girl. Adverts show us these same families eating breakfast at the kitchen table, neat, happy, energetic and loving. But think a little longer; how many families do you know that follow this formula?

Families can be messy or complicated, large, loud, quiet or calm. They come in all shapes and sizes: a single parent and a child; three generations living under one roof; remarried parents whose children become step siblings; and others without children. They are not necessarily related by blood or by legal definitions. Some are built through the bonds of friendship and community.

The exhibition highlights the ways that relationships and individual personalities make a family, as well as external factors, such as cultural background. Many of the photographers included here have been drawn to documenting communities that function like families, finding them in places of worship, markets, pubs and local community centres.

Every family has a different story, each woven with moments of joy and sadness. These stories of family and ancestry have great power over our lives. They can be a source of pride or solace; teach us important lessons about how we want to live; and help us understand why we are who we are.


Public Programme

Pop Up Portraits

31 October /  11 – 3 pm, at Thimblemill Library, Smethwick

Have your family portrait taken at a pop-up studio run by photography students from Sandwell College.


Who Do You Think You Are? Tracing African Caribbean Ancestry with Paul Crooks

Saturday 17 November, 2018 / 1 – 6 pm at the West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre

This event explores family stories in the African Caribbean community. It features a talk by Who Do You Think You Are (BBC) genealogist and author Paul Crooks; a discussion about West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre’s upcoming project Gone But Not Forgotten, as well as food and music and a chance to view Multistory’s current touring exhibition We Are Family.