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.
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 coincide to launch the book on 12 August, 2016.
An exhibition of Liz Hingley’s photographs will tour to six Sandwell Libraries from 16 January to 10 July, 2017. Join us for the launch event at 2.30pm on Monday 16 January 2017 at Smethwick Library. Click here for more info.
A selection of photographs were also exhibited at the Side Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, from 1 October until 27 November, 2016, as part of the show Childhoods.
Watch Liz Hingley discuss working on Home Made in Smethwick in the exclusive interview below.
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.
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.
– Liz Hingley
Listen to Liz Hingley share some of her favourite stories below: