A welcome discussion

The Empire Café is an exploration of Scotland’s relationship with the North Atlantic slave trade through coffee, sugar, tea, cotton, music, visual art, academic lectures, poetry, debate, workshops, historical walks, film and literature. The café will be based in the Briggait (home of the Merchant’s Steeple) in Glasgow’s Merchant City from 24th July - 1st August 2014

Contributors to the programme include poets Jackie Kay, Millicent Graham, Alan Riach and Fred D’Aguiar; authors Andrea Stuart, James Robertson and Chris Dolan, internationally acclaimed artist Graham Fagan, Hip Hop band Stanley Odd, The Big Big Sing and Dr Richard Benjamin of the Liverpool Slavery Museum, plus many more.

The Empire Café has commissioned poems from eminent Scottish and Caribbean poets on Scotland and the North Atlantic slave trade which will be published in a print anthology which will be available free of charge. Poets contributing to the anthology include Kei Miller, John Burnside, Vicki Fever, Dorothea Smartt, Aonghas MacNeacail and others.

The Empire Café will serve dishes developed through a series of outreach sessions delving into the history of trade between Scotland and the empire. The changing daily menu will be prepared by community cooks from across Glasgow, and will feature organic Scottish produce and fairly traded ingredients from other parts of the World. Café operator McCune Smith, Bakery 47 and Dear Green Coffee will all join this exploration of how the food we eat has been shaped by colonialism.

The Empire Cafe is founded by co-directors Jude Barber of Collective Architecture and author Louise Welsh. ‘Merchant City Voices’, their collaborative series of sounds works exploring Glasgow’s relationship with the North Atlantic slave trade won a 2013 Scottish Design Award.

Call for Cooks

We are looking for community cooking groups across the city who are interested in creating the lunch menu that will be served in the Café. We would like to work with a number of different groups to devise a menu that

• Explores the history of trade between Scotland and the West Indies
• Helps to tell the story of how food in Scotland has changed through contact
with other places and ingredients from the Empire
• Reflects the diverse cultural heritages of people living in Glasgow today
• Features seasonal ingredients grown sustainably in Scotland as well as fairly
traded products from other countries

You can download 'Call for Cooks' for more information. Please fill in an application form if you're interested in getting involved.


The Empire Café is part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, a partnership between the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Glasgow Life, and Creative Scotland through National Lottery funding. The Empire Cafe is also supported by The British Council. 'Letter to an Unknown Soldier' and artist Graham Fagen’s new work within The Empire Cafe have been commissioned by 14-18 NOW. The 'Sight Lines' documentary by Genevieve Bicknell has been commissioned by RCAHMS as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.

Sightlines - RCAHMS and the Scottish Documentary Institute.