My name is Wei Yee


Meet Me on the Move: a trip to the Migration Museum on Wednesday 9th February 2022.

Artist blog and report by Wei Yee.

The three degrees or the three R’s (Rose, Rosaline and Ron)

We met outside the museum in Lewisham shopping  Centre where I was greeted by the three degrees. We had a good chat while we were waiting for more people to arrive. I find out that it was Rosaline’s idea to go visit the Migration Museum as she had recently interviewed them for Meet Me on the Radio.

I begin sketching Rosaline, asking for her permission first. And she said she didn’t mind. She starts telling me that she always gets people sketching her. Someone on the bus had sketched her without asking her which she did not like at all. She also got harassed to have her portrait painted in Paris however it did not look like her at all and it cost a lot of money. I said that’s happened to me before too. I still have the portrait, the artist made me look more European and didn’t want to draw in my glasses either.

Anyway, Rosaline kept chatting and moving while I was sketching.

I think I captured the moment in time while we were waiting.

It was already an interesting meet up before even going into the museum. People started arriving slowly as the traffic around Lewisham that day was terrible due to a recent sinkhole and road works. We eventually went into the museum and sat in the back on some chairs and sofas.

There were some ‘I love Lewisham’ posters on the wall which sparked more conversation. Kurban said he didn’t love Lewisham because he lives in Camberwell Green. Rosaline loved Lewisham as she had lived there most of her life. Gloria said she loved Lewisham too as she worked at Lewisham Hospital for years as a midwife and said it was the best job she ever had.

Me and Rose (volunteer) began serving tea as most people had arrived. The meeting had begun and each person was asked to introduce themselves and say something interesting about their name and where it came from.

This was interesting to me as I had also brought a postcard to show people. I had produced in 1997 of me and my grannies in Hong Kong. The photo was part documentation of my visit in Hong Kong applying for an ID card during the time of the hand over of Hong Kong from UK to China. But also on the back of the postcard I had written a list of my name that had been pronounced in various different ways incorrectly. It felt significant in that moment in time.

I had my own story to tell from the generation that was born in the UK from parents who came to this country from Hong Kong.

The group were in their element each telling their own stories.

After the meeting we then started to wonder around the museum looking at the different exhibits. Ron had found a passport that he said could have been him except it was a man from Malta.

All the details described him except the place of birth.

Pauline who was standing nearby was looking a bit lost said that it’s still going on. I said what is? She said about the refugees and small children coming on boats and how they were dying and how terribly sad it was. There are so many stories to tell about all aspects of immigration we really need to educate and teach people about this and to generations to come.

Rosemary was looking at a picture of two Welsh ladies in traditional costume. She told me her husband was Welsh. And many years ago there was some parade of which Rosemary had made costumes for. She said she had made the Welsh hats the traditional way which she said was very difficult and painful on her fingers.

Pauline had spotted some food posters which reminded her of when she first arrived in the UK.

Pauline also saw a photo that could of been her of a couple who came over from Jamaica, maybe in the 50s and 60s.

I showed Pauline my postcard of me and my grannies which reminded her about her job as a host for overseas students. She had so many from China, Korea and Europe of which she also help teach them English. She said she still gets letters and cards from some of the students she looked after. She really enjoyed it she really helped a lot of students with their first visit to the UK learning English.

There was a bed in one of the rooms which Stella sat on.

Rosemary said the bed reminded her of her childhood when she went Hop picking. Whereby all 5 of her family would lie on the bed sideways. The mattress was also filled with straw.

We all went back to the backroom after and gave feedback of what we all thought about the exhibits. Kurban said there was a lot to take in and would definitely come back take his time to look around. Grace was very animated she felt very strongly about educating the children today of their stories of arriving the country. There was picture of people on a BOAC plane which reminded her of when she first came over in exactly the same plane.

Robyn one of the Museum’s staff was inviting everyone to come talk to her as she was collecting stories of people’s experiences. I recommended Grace go talk to Robyn. I think all of the Meet Me at group definitely could take part in this.

There was an exhibit at the front of the museum called Humanae by Angelica Dass which is a work in progress where the artist has created portraits of people all over the world matching their skin tone to Pantone colour charts. A comment that there are many skin tones than just Black and white. I found this interesting which inspired me to produce the black biro sketches of the Meet Me at group on postcards.

This is a photocopy of the drawings put together of all the members who came to the Migration museum.

As part of the documentation of the trip I wanted to gift each member a portrait of themselves from that day. As they shared stories with me when we looked around the exhibition.

Meet Me on the Move is generously supported by City Bridge Trust.

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