The Last of the Dictionary Men

Experimental Documentary & Museum Exhibition

Last of the Dictionary Men: Stories from the South Shields Yemeni Sailors is an exceptional hybrid exhibition consisting of exciting major and large-scale visual arts installations by internationally renowned artists, Tina Gharavi and Youssef Nabil.

Bridge + Tunnel Voices engaged members of the 1st generation South Shields Yemeni community to create a project recording the history of their community, including their unique stories of migration, their working lives and their integration into the North East. The work has captured their remarkable and unknown heritage – one that has thrived in South Tyneside for over a century. Some of the older members of the community (having mainly worked as seamen in the Merchant Navy) have lived in the area for over 60 years and are part of a distinct Diaspora that is one of the oldest recorded Middle Eastern communities existing in Britain today.

Over a three-year period, Bridge + Tunnel collaborated with the remaining fourteen first-generation seamen to commemorate a remarkable story of successful integration; an important, but little-known part of British immigrant history. Last of the Dictionary Men is an exhibition that offers a unique portrait of the complexities of modern British identity.

Including pieces by artist and filmmaker Tina Gharavi and photographer Youssef Nabil, the catalogue captures the remarkable journey of the Yemenis of South Shields and their inspiring stories of finding a new home in Britain.

“This is a gem of a book, a fascinating, touching and uplifting account of the Yemenis of South Shields. Tina Gharavi sought out the last of a generation of sailors who came to Britain to work on the ships, married Geordie women and settled in the community. Youssef Nabil’s beautiful portraits accompany the story, brilliantly evoking the spirit, the dignity and humour of this remarkable group of men.” -Venetia Porter, Curator, British Museum

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