Listen: Anna-Maria Nabirye, The Funnest Room in the House – Afterword

Anna-Maria Nabirye, Self portrait taken in the kitchen she grew up in. She wears a gomesi and eats beans on toast., 2022

Listen to the audio

About the work

Anna-Maria’s installation, described below, was destroyed by fire on 26 May. She says: “Twelve months of mentoring, nine months of hard work and a lifetime of heart was stored in The Cockle Shed. With the ashes still warm I’m holding firm and responding to this moment with an audio work that speaks to the act of trying to create a celebration of Black Joy and that advocates for a work that no longer exists. A work that carries the pain, the exhaustion, the community, the love and the joy I still hold for The Funnest Room in the House and all it represents.”

Taking inspiration from the kitchens of Anna-Maria’s childhood and those of her diaspora peers, The Funnest Room in the House invites visitors to travel through time and space to explore a Black British kitchen collected from many pasts. These intimate spaces were individual to each family’s life but were also a performance of collective culture, containing expressions of ancestral homelands and nostalgia for back home, mashed up with British culture.

This slice of social history is quietly disappearing, for the most part unrecorded, with kitchen renovations filling skips around the country and links to homelands feeling further and further away as elders pass on to become ancestors. The Funnest Room in the House joyfully brings these kitchens into the spotlight, with playful interventions that track the changing roles that have always taken residence in the kitchen from the 1980s to during the lockdowns of the last two years. If visitors linger and make themselves at home, the kitchen will reveal surprises that give space for celebration, joy and healing through nourishment, dance and movement.

The audio work, originally intended to be listened to while walking around Whitstable Harbour, from Dead Man’s Corner to West Quay, is now available online for a limited time.

If you have a story about a Black British kitchen that you would like to share for the next iteration of The Funnest Room in the House, please get in touch with Anna-Maria here.

Credits

A special thank you to my partner Dan Hope for all the love, support, hard work, labouring and driving on the original work and this version.

Additional Sound Design & support: Helen Skiera 

Massive thank you to Deanne, Joy, Claudine, Claudette, Lilly, Lea for sharing your special memories and stories and the beautiful folk who I met via Facebook marketplace. 

Thank you to Andy Beauchamp for leading on construction, Ted Barrow for sound design and Robin Crowley for Fridge fabrication of the original installation. 

Thank you to Chris, Will, Darragh for driving, van drops and kitchen hauling, Khadija for donating so many objects that were destroyed and Alex and Hayley for donating the first kitchen.