Michael McMillan

Michael McMillan © Rehan Jamil 2015-1 black & white

Research Associate at The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD)
Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture
University of Johannesburg

McMillan, Michael (BA Honors, Sussex University 1984, Master of Arts, Central St Martins School of Art 1991, Doctor of Arts, Middlesex University 2010)


As a writer, playwright, mixed-media artist, curator and scholar DR McMillan’s practice is transdisciplinary and explores migration, identity, gender, sexuality and hidden histories through ethnography, material culture, oral history, performance texts, installation and audio-visual media.

Within Dr McMillan’s curatorial practice and mixed-media installations the following critically acclaimed projects include: The West Indian Front Room (Geffrye Museum 2005-06) that had over 35,000 culturally diverse visitors, which led to international commissions: Van Huis Uit: The Living Room of Migrants in The Netherlands (Imagine IC, Amsterdam 2007 – Holland wide tour 2008) & A Living Room Surrounded by Salt (Instituto Buena Bista Artist Residency, Curacao 2008). There is also a BBC4 documentary, Tales from the Front Room (March 2007), an interactive website www.thefrontroom.org.uk/ , and a publication  The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home (Black Dog Publishing 2009).

Dr McMIllan is currently a Visiting Prof. of Creative Writing (LCC-UAL 2003-present), an Associate Lecturer in Cultural & Historical Studies (LCF, UAL), an  RAS Associate Researcher (UAL), as well as a member of the Royal Literary Fund (RLF).


Recent curatorial work/mixed-media installations:

No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990, curated the Walter Rodney Bookshop installation (Guildhall Art Gallery 2015-16)

Rockers, Soulheads & Lovers: Sound Systems back in da Day (New Art Exchange, Nottingham 2015-16 & 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning, London 2016)

Doing Nothing is Not an Option (Peckham Platform, London 2015)

My Hair: Black Hair Culture, Style & Politics  (Origins of the Afro Comb, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge 2013)

I Miss My Mum’s Cooking (Who More Sci-Fi Than Us, KAdE Kunsthal, Amersfoort, Netherlands 2012)

The Waiting Room (Stories & Journeys, Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery, Bangor, North Wales 2012)

The Southall Story (South Bank Centre 2010 & Dominion Centre, Southall 2011)

The Beauty Shop (198 Contemporary Arts & Learning 2008)

Conversations in the Front Room – installation & website launch, InIVA, 2007) www.thefrontroom.org.uk/

The West Indian Front Room (Zion Arts Centre/NBAA 2003 & The Albany, Deptford 2004, Wycombe Museum, Slough Museum 1999 – 2000)

Plays/performance installations:

Doing Nothing is Not an Option (Theatre Peckham, Peckham Square 2015)

The Good Person of Sezuan – a new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s play set in Jamaica 1980 (MAT 2010 & 2012)

Master Juba (Theatre Is & GLYPT 2006)

Babel Junction (Maya Productions 2006)

Blood for Britain (BBC Radio 4 Drama 2001)

Invisible (Double Edge Theatre 1993 & Kings Head Theatre 1998)

Brother to Brother (B2B 1996 & Talawa Theatre 1998) pub.

Portrait of a Shopping Centre as a Cathedral (Art & Society 1990)

First Impressions (New Perspectives Theatre, Mansfield 1988)

On Duty (Black Angels 1982 & Channel 4 1984) pub.

Hard Time Pressure (Royal Court Activists Youth Theatre 1980)

The School Leaver (Royal Court Young Writers Festival 1978) pub.


Authored publications:

The Waiting Room: An audio-visual tale of an artist in residence at the Alaw Ward (Cancer & Palliative Care Unit/Rheumatology Clinics) in Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor: AIHWB, 2012.

The Black Boy Pub & Other Stories: the black experience in High Wycombe (Wycombe District Council 1997)

Living Proof: Views of a world living with HIV & AIDS- Photography & Writings (Artists Agency 1992)


Published essays:

‘De Mudder Tongue: Oral History Work as an Arts Practice’, in Oral History in the Visual Arts, eds. Linda Sandino & Matthew Partington, Oxford: Berg, 2013.

‘The West Indian Front Room: Reflections on a Diasporic Phenomenon’ ,ed. David Scott, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, SX 28, Vol. 13, No.1, March 2009.

‘Ter speak in yer mudder tongue: An interview with playwright Mustapha Matura’ in ed. Kwesi Owusu Black British Culture & Society: A Text Reader  (Routledge, 2000)




Writer – A Walk Around Bloomsbury with Sir Hans Sloane (Healing Histories 2012),

Artist in Residence (Arts in Health & Wellbeing – BCUHB 2010-11), Arts Fellowship (Byam Shaw CSM-UAL 2010-11)

RLF Writing Fellow (LCC-UAL 2000–4 & UEL 2011-12)

Felllowship in Creative Writing (Leeds Univ. 2001)


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