Date: 23 May 2017 to 26 May 2016
Location: China Exchange, 32A Gerrard Street, London, W1 D6J
When Britain commenced maritime trade with Qing dynasty China in the late 17th century, the first Chinese migrants came as sailors aboard East India Company ships and lived in London near the docks. Since then, the Chinese who have come to make their home in Britain have journeyed from the expansive Chinese Diaspora, with diverse origins, and distinct dialects and customs. This exhibition builds upon the interviews with people of Chinese ethnic origin in the UK and documents their stories in migration, family and identity making.
That’s why I gave up working in the restaurant, so I would have more time with the children. That was three years ago, and that’s why I try to look for a different type of job, to fit in with their school time and still earn some money. Because I remember when my son was in primary one and at that time I was still working in the takeaway shop, it was a very hard job and I was very tired, so it was difficult for me to wake up in the morning and that’s why my son was always late. One day I received a phone call from the primary school teacher who gave me a warning: if you bring your son to school late, that’s not a problem, but just bring him to school. And that made me think – that’s my son’s future, so I started to think, I need to give up my job and spend more time with my children, and luckily I was successful in changing to another kind of job and now I’m working as a care assistant. It’s part-time so I can use their school time for my work and after my work I can spend my time with the children. Because my husband is still working in the takeaway shop, but it doesn’t matter, because one of us is at home. That’s why I have time to take them to the musical instrument class, to swimming, and to learn something extra from the school.
Man, born 1960 in Hong Kong, emigrated to Scotland in childhood
I resented it [helping out with parents’ takeaway business]. None of my friends had to do this but I had to. It was a few days a week, so definitely at the weekends I had to work. I would help prep-peeling prawns, cutting vegetables, only for a couple of hours a day and then at night I would help out but only until about 9 o’clock and then I was allowed to go and do stuff. … What I also resented was that my friends had hobbies and play dates. We never had that. Even now, I find it difficult with my own kids. Because we never did it.
Woman, born in Leicester in 1973