© Peter Young / Chats Palace
The picture above shows a monthly Irish Folk Session that took place in Chats Palace bar space in the early 1990’s. Around that period one could hear jazz, acoustic, cabaret, poetry and women’s performance events on mid-week evenings.
One of the most notable artists to play in the bar during that era was Clifford Jarvis. An American jazz drummer who had played with the Sun Ra Orchestra, Jarvis came to settle in Hackney in the 1980’s and taught percussion in community projects in the area including Pyramid Arts in Dalston and Chats Palace. Clifford played several memorable Thursday night gigs in the bar with his trio.
Here he is playing drums with Archie Shepp in 1978 (not at Chats!)
One of the oldest pictures we’ve found so far is this Free Form Art Trust group shot, taken around Christmas 1977, during the production of the Christmas panto ‘The Wonderful Palace of Nod’. Look out for the full selection of Chats Christmas show posters in the near future.
The story of Free Form and its involvement with community arts in Hackney is admirably told in Kate Crehan’s book ‘Community arts: an anthropological perspective’. Kate, an academic at City University of New York is also a long-time friend of two of the organisations’ founders.
© Mike Gray/Chats Palace
Back row: Alex Carr, Kelly Harvey, Joyce (?)
Standing middle row: Steve Simmons, Hazel Goldman, Cilla Baines, Heather Macadam, Barbara Wheeler-Early (with baby), Martin Goodrich, Karen Merkel, Alan May, Felicity Harvest
Seated front row: Rod Brookes (with Zoot the dog), Graham Downes (with Harry the dog), Liz Hocking
If you happen to know anyone in the photo, please ask them to get in touch with us.
The Hackney Marsh Fun Festival was born out of collaboration between local adventure playground worker Alan Rossiter and Free Form, a group dedicated to promoting arts projects in working class estates and communities.
The HMFF, which started in 1973 became very popular, attracting up to 15,000 people by the late 1970s. The Festival had its own organising committee who in turn, together with Free Form played a huge role in establishing Chats Palace in 1976.
1973 was the first time the Festival was run! We are now on a lookout for that very first poster. Please get in touch if you know anything about it.
Click here to see the individual posters