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Life Between Islands – Reflection on the Ubele Circle with Michael McMillan by Barbara Gray

April 22nd, 2022

Lights and Shade 



Music and culture misappropriation 


Displaced and like shadows disappear over time with no traces – that is changing - our stories told by us are everywhere and the responsibility for learning is not our responsibility and that has been made clear. 

Between the lights and shade of the displacement constantly being moved by others from one continent to another for wealth and status of others, to fight in wars that are not ours, to rebuild economies after the war in which our place is the labour, and through gentrification, our culture is held onto and curves throughout the centuries as joy, resilience and resistance as a result of the pain of being used for everyone elses’ purpose and on their terms, politicised without request or permission.   

Despite it, we express ourselves, music, hair, clothes, women and men, connection through the generations setting the pace and changing mainstream culture.  Never quite feel you belong and always in that space between the Caribbean, UK and Africa.  It is chased by gentrification but they just can’t hold onto the essence created and we take it wherever we go to the next place with remnants now in major UK institutions of arts, heritage and culture. 

The Circles took intergenerational group back through those locations - the museum, the almshouse, Tilbury - we re-walked many journeys of our ancient and contemporary ancestors telling and reliving our stories which is an important role of this work and the change that is taking place since Black Lives Matter and death of George Floyd. Circles bring together different generations where we can talk directly and share and explore together people’s experiences of the past, of the current time with the backdrop of time, and journey through 18th century through to the 21st century as younger and older people in those significant places of Geffrye Museum, Tilbury, Tate, in the Guardian. Though we still live our lives between the islands which makes us privileged really with our Caribbean culture that the world can’t get enough of, our sense of pride, which no one can take away, and the privilege of our stories that wherever we go, we leave something they just can’t hold onto and create and we take that with us. 

An experience of dark and light with curves running through in between the islands. Quite an experience.  

Barbara Gray 

Development Lead 


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