At Home with Vanley Burke

  • Christine Checinska Research Associate, Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg.
Keywords: Black British material culture, everyday objects, creolisation, archives, memory, rememory, history


In this article, I reflect on the exhibition At Home with Vanley Burke (2015, Ikon, Birmingham). Three objects from Burke’s archive – a Pitchy-Patchy Jamaican Jonkonnu Carnival costume, an old-fashioned wooden school desk and a photograph of a boy with a Union Jack flag – are used as catalysts to explore the relationship between personal/private/intimate and public/collective cultural histories, remembering, memory and material culture. In so doing, I demonstrate how hidden diasporic histories in Britain can be uncovered via the close reading of everyday objects. Using an autoethnographic approach, I examine how Burke’s archive functions as a site of memory and source of individual and collective knowledge.