Wandsworth celebrates Black History 365
Wandsworth Council’s Arts and Culture Service launches Black History 365, a year-long programme of community-focused, cultural, arts and heritage-based activities and events running from May 2023 to April 2024.
“Wandsworth Council celebrates Black History Month each October with an extensive programme of events, but we also believe African and Caribbean history, culture and heritage should be celebrated all year round.This year, we will be sharing the stories and experiences of people of African or Caribbean heritage who live, work or study in Wandsworth, recognising the outstanding contribution that people of the African diaspora have made in shaping our borough” says Councillor Kemi Akinola, Wandsworth Council’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for the voluntary sector, business engagement and culture.
In February 2023, the Arts and Culture Service launched a new fund for artists and cultural organisations to develop programming for Black History 365 to happen locally over the coming year. The call-out was for project ideas that would encourage residents of African and Caribbean heritage to engage in cultural activity that would be meaningful and relevant to them, as well as allow the wider community to better understand the histories of fellow residents, colleagues and students making a positive difference in Wandsworth, and be inspired by them. Artists of African and Caribbean heritage and/or Black-led organisations were particularly encouraged to apply, as part of a wider invitation to contribute to the cultural agenda of the borough.
Seven brilliant projects were selected, each receiving up to £2000 to develop and deliver their ideas between now and April 2024.
S.T.O.R.M. Family Centre kick off the programme this Saturday, 20 May, with a creative Caribbean BBQ celebrating Black designers and performers. Eclectic Gift begin their regular wellness and art workshops for women of colour this May, with an exhibition and final celebration planned for International Women’s Day in 2024. In June, Writerz and Scribez explore the significance of preserving family legacy, heritage, practices and culture through jewellery and a documentary film, while Michael Mapp presents an exhibition celebrating Black history in Wandsworth. He will also be running art workshops for the public to create abstract artwork responding to the works and themes of the exhibition. From June to October, genealogist and author Paul Crooks will be running talks on Black ancestry in local libraries, and Tavaziva Dance will present Artistic Director Bawren Tavaziva’s own history through his latest dance piece BOYS KHAYA, with workshops for young local dancers, who will be recruited from September. Beginning in September 2023 and culminating in a community fashion show in February 2024, Fée Uhssi will offer six different fashion and wellbeing workshops exploring the history and symbolism of African textiles.
Full information about each project can be found below.
Wandsworth’s Black History 365 Projects 2023-24:
S.T.O.R.M. Family Centre – Caribbean Summer BBQ
STORM Family Centre will be holding a free Caribbean summer BBQ in the Doddington and Rollo Estate’s Community Roof Garden on Sat 20 May.
The event will feature a showcase of Black designers, music, artists and writers based in Wandsworth with a fashion show using local models of all ages. Participants will showcase their art and crafts, books, jewellery and music – all having a different flavour from the Caribbean and Africa.
There will be a Black clothing and jewellery business displaying clothes, art and accessories; a haircare organisation showcasing products; and storytelling demonstrating the talent of Black authors, inspiring local children to follow in their footsteps.
The rooftop garden party will feature Black music, steelpan bands and African dancing, celebrating Black talent from people who have done well in the music industry as well as Black actors, creating a carnival atmosphere in the floral surroundings of the community rooftop garden.
“STORM Family Centre is honoured, and delighted to contribute to the promotion of Black History 365 for all our Community” – Marie Hanson MBE
Sat 20 May 2023, 1-8pm, Doddington and Rollo Community Roof Garden (up the stairs at the end of Charlotte Despard Avenue, across the square behind Tesco on Battersea Park Road, SW11 5HD). www.stormfamilycentre.com | TW: @marieMBESTORM | IG: storm_empowerment
Eclectic Gift – Womenkind: The Joy and Complexities of Colour
Beginning on 22 May 2023, WomenKind is an opportunity to make connections, learn new skills and improve wellbeing. These empowering free workshops, delivered in partnership with Bounce Theatre and Home Community Café in Earlsfield, are designed to bring local women together to share and explore their experiences as women of colour through conversation and creation.
Over five months of workshops, participants will create 100 personal art pieces that will be displayed in an exhibition and celebration of Womenkind on International Women’s Day in March 2024.
“I want to share my passion and experiences to combat loneliness and isolation by building women up and showing them that their stories matter.” – Nichola MacGuire, Eclectic Gift
The first workshop takes place on Monday 22nd May 2023, 1pm-3pm, at Home Community Café, St Andrews, Garratt Lane, SW18 4SR. Absolutely no experience is necessary, and the group is open to all women of colour living in the Borough of Wandsworth. Any and no faith welcome.
Register interest here: www.eclecticgift.co.uk/womenkind | @eclecticgift
Michael Mapp – Black Wandsworth
Artist and Photographer Michael Mapp will curate an exhibition, Black Wandsworth, and deliver a series of free art workshops celebrating the impact of contributions made by individuals and groups from the African & African Diasporic People of Wandsworth.
The exhibition will be open to the public from 16 June – 7 July (Mon – Fri, 9am -5pm) at Doddington & Rollo Business Centre.
Free art workshops will be available 6.30pm – 8pm Friday 23 June, Friday 30 June and Friday 7 July. Using the exhibition as a stimuli, workshop attendees will create original surrealist/abstract contemporary works of art.
Michael Mapp is a local artist with a wealth of experience working in and around Black cultural initiatives. He was Creative Production Manager on the Heritage Lottery-funded Expectations project launched at The Black Cultural Archives and has previously exhibited with The African and African-Caribbean Design Diaspora at The OXO Tower.
Writerz and Scribez – Hidden treasures
Hidden Treasures is a creative project celebrating Black Heritage and lineage through workshops, arts, jewellery and conversation. Over three free sessions, participants are invited to explore how our identity has been shaped by our familial culture. What has been persevered? How have things changed? What is the significance of cultural expression in adornment and jewellery? And in what ways are we practising and redefining identity for ourselves and future generations?
The workshops will be led by Kassanda Lauren Gordon, an award-winning Black Fine Jeweller and multidisciplinary artist who, through her work, communicates the layered influences of British-Jamaicans and has curated films, events and workshops exploring the significance of preserving family legacy, heritage, practices and culture.
Alongside the open workshops, Hidden Treasures will document two intergenerational interviews, collating oral histories with local people centred on adornment. A short film will be created, combining stories from workshops and interviews which will be screened and discussed at Yeah OK! monthly poetry event at Battersea Arts Centre on Wed 18 October 2023.
“I’m very excited to run these storytelling and jewellery inspired workshops, using creative ways to capture important oral histories of Black Britain today” – Kassandra Lauren Gordon
“It is important to us to capture stories centred in positivity, that focus on Black identities in relation to discovery, redefining narratives and preserving our culture.” – Jemilea Wisdom-Baako (Founder, Writerz and Scribez)
Workshops will be held at the Pump House Gallery in Battersea Park on Thursday 1, 8 and 15 June from 6.30pm-8.30pm. Sign up HERE.
www.writerznscribez.org | IG: @writerznscribez | TW: @writerznscribez | Facebook.com/writerzndscribez
Ancestry Talks – Who Do You Think You Are? – Tracing African & Caribbean Ancestry
Between June and October 2023, Ancestry Talks will deliver four free African & Caribbean family history sessions in Wandsworth libraries. Join renowned genealogist and author Paul Crooks as he delves into the fascinating world of Black ancestry and history. With four insightful talks and drop-in sessions on offer, attendees can explore the rich cultural heritage of the Black and Caribbean community, uncover hidden stories of their own ancestors, and deepen their understanding of Black history.
In Beyond Windrush | How to Trace Black Ancestry Using Passenger Lists, attendees will learn how to use passenger lists to trace their family tree, gaining valuable insights into their ancestry and the historical context of Black people’s experiences.
Tracing African Caribbean Roots | The 1817 Slave Registers Uncovered provides a deeper understanding of the impact of slavery on Black individuals and communities, and how exploring Black ancestry can promote healing and reconciliation. (Thu 21 September, 6pm, Balham Library).
In Uncovering the Truth About Names and Naming Practices in North American Enslaved Societies, attendees will discover fascinating insights into the naming practices within North American enslaved societies. This talk uncovers hidden histories of Black ancestry and resistance against oppression. (Wed 25 October, 6pm, Battersea Library).
Offering one-to-one support, Tracing African Caribbean Ancestry Drop-in Sessions offers expert guidance on getting started tracing Black British, Caribbean and North American ancestry, overcoming online barriers and finding ancestors born in the 1800s. (Thu 5 October, 6pm – 7.30pm, Balham Library)
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my passion for genealogy with the community. Through my talks, I hope to inspire and empower others to delve into their own family histories and uncover the stories of their ancestors. By understanding our past, we can gain a deeper appreciation for our present and build a stronger future. I look forward to connecting with everyone who attends my talks and helping them begin their own journey of discovery.” – Paul Crooks, Genealogist and Author of Ancestors.
Upcoming events will be available to book on Eventbrite HERE.
Fée Uhssi – The African Textiles and Fashion Experience
Using African textiles and fashion as a support to explore African and Afro Caribbean history and culture, artist Fée Uhssi will deliver a series of free creative and interactive workshops where participants will learn about African textiles and Fashion history and how they influence modern and western fashion. Participants will discover different symbols from different cultures all over the African continent, how these techniques and culture were exported to the Caribbean with the slave trade and how it continued in the Caribbean.
Workshops participants will explore the Art of Wrapping, from headwraps to using wraps in the daily life and how they offer solutions for a more sustainable way of dressing; they will enjoy an overview of colour therapy, from its birth in ancient Egypt to its modern uses and why and how to wear colours; they will also have opportunity to take part in hands-on activities and try new skills; discover and study African Symbols and understand how the symbols used in Textile design are similar to hieroglyphs or a writing system in civilisations where there was no paper support for writing; they will explore using symbols to tell stories and create some unique pieces with a fabric painting/ printing, or patchwork making.
Running September 2023 – February 2024, the project will consist of a series of six workshops culminating in a community fashion show where participants will be invited to model an outfit that tells the story of their family background, country of origin, or tribe.
Tavaziva Dance – BOY’S KHAYA
Renowned contemporary choreographer and music producer Bawren Tavaziva presents a public performance of BOY’S KHAYA, accompanied by an African dance and creative skills workshop for local young dancers and a networking event for local cultural organisations.
Created by Zimbabwean-born Bawren Tavaziva (Artistic Director of Tavaziva Dance), BOY’S KHAYA is a personal and political artistic statement, tackling themes of political persecution, slavery and modern colonialism through the powerful and evocative medium of dance. It explores his childhood in Zimbabwe and the colonial legacy still very apparent there today, contemporary impacts of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as a celebration of the rich culture of Zimbabwe and its influence on his expression as an artist.
Young aspiring dancers will be invited to take part in a free workshop based on BOY’S KHAYA at bbodance. Participants will work with Bawren and the company dancers to explore Black history themes in BOY’S KHAYA and in their own lived experiences and use this as a creative stimulus for creating their own material. This workshop will be an opportunity for local young creatives to access, for free, a world-class creative and skills development opportunity, and diversify their dance and creative education.
There will also be a public performance of BOY’S KHAYA, bringing the full production to Wandsworth, where it was created, for the first time.
A post-show reception will bring together local independent artists and organisations for networking, debate and discussion around Black history and how to ensure a diverse cultural and creative borough year-round.
Performance and workshop dates TBA.
A full programme of events and activities for October’s Black History Month will also be announced later in the year.