From Pop Art to Community Arts

‘Warhol to Walker’ Exhibition Launch – Thursday July 13th 6-7.30pm

This special exhibition explores the influence print movements have had on Hackney. Starting with the explosion of pop art in the 1960s, the exhibition displays works on loan from the British Museum by celebrated artists including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Kara Walker alongside Hackney artists.

To support the show, Fragile Archivists contributed silk-screen posters from the Chats Palace Archive as well as made a film ‘From Pop Art to Community Arts: Hackney in the 1970s-80s’.

Pop Art Exhibition launch


The film is displayed at the Hackney Museum from 11 July till 16 September 2017.
Once the exhibition is over, the film will be available online. Watch this space!

We can’t thank enough our interviewees, the most wonderful Hackney activists, artists and researchers – Jess Baines, Neil Martinson, Alan May, Ingrid Pollard, Red Saunders, Rene Rice and Rebecca Wilson.

From Pop Art to Community Arts

© Asya Gefter


Colin O’Brien and Chats Palace

One day in the early 2000’s I was listening to the tale of Magnum’s discovery of the great Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain from a Hackney photo activist and raconteur. I asked if it was possible that any other significant talents or bodies of work from the mid-20th century remained unknown or overlooked? “Highly unlikely in this day and age” came back the reply.

Well since then there has been the unexpected publishing story of the work of Vivian Maier to name but one. I would also suggest that the late recognition of Colin O’Brien, culminating in the summer of 2015 when his book ‘London Life’ was Amazon’s bestseller in photography is another life to celebrate.

I came across Colin and his work a couple of months after the above conversation. Walking along the chilly London South Bank in December 2006 I spotted a huge black and white print of a Morrissey concert in the Oxo Tower Gallery. Once inside the walls were packed with strong classic black and white images of mainly working class life from London and beyond, portrayed in a straightforward and dignified humanist style. Colin was on hand to chat about his work and offered a portfolio of extra prints where I first saw ‘Lady in a summer dress Chatsworth Road 1980’s’. Benjamin the Chemist plus landmark clock and Percy Ingle the baker were all present and correct in the background. I had walked down that street for 20 years. This was by far the best picture I had seen that summed up the atmosphere of unexpected and quiet beauty that pervaded the relative urban backwater of Homerton and Clapton in those days.

Almost exactly a year on in the late autumn of 2007 Colin installed his exhibition ‘Five decades of East London Photography’ around the downstairs corridor and bar area of Chats Palace. He was delighted that I couldn’t spot which of the prints that he presented in monochrome had actually been printed from colour negatives. (A tough challenge to successfully pull off in a darkroom).

Three large images of the Clerkenwell/Farringdon Road junction were placed above the bar. The alcove walls were similarly adorned with big prints, “Comings and goings in Club Row/Brick Lane 1986” and groupings of children from the series “London Fields travellers kids”. The bar pictures were so popular that Colin agreed to leave them in place for a couple of years after the official exhibition closed. Copies of his images became popular leaving presents for Chats Palace Board and Staff members, to the extent that workers joked of dreading being asked which their ‘favourite O’Brien’ might be. Colin found this quite funny. My personal choice was always “Snow scene New Year’s Eve Clerkenwell 1962” with the isolated single figure crossing the deserted street, composed from an elevated position and constructed with strong diagonals.

Three years later Colin was back at Chats Palace with a new group of pictures, this time of Chatsworth Road. “The last of the real high streets” was a joint project with Clapton writer Jane Eggington and comprised of a series of classic environmental portraits of small business shopkeepers from all over the world. Colin created the work on a digital SLR and grappled with his own digital colour management and printout for the first time. Meanwhile Jane produced a series of poignant pen pictures and anecdotal references to further our understanding of the hard slog contribution of these local businesses during a difficult economic era. Once again the exhibition was extremely popular not least amongst the hundreds of newer residents of Homerton and Clapton who found a sense of orientation of place amongst these photo stories.

Colin once mentioned that he had always wanted to exhibit at The Victoria and Albert Museum and in a way he did get to do that when he worked alongside photographer Asya Gefter and I on a schools based outreach project for The Museum of Childhood in 2011. ‘Playing In and Out’ looked at kids play over the decades and Colin got to show a large selection of his archive in a grid formation in the new front extention to the Museum as well as giving a lively interview session with a class of children from a Tower Hamlets Primary school .

In 2015 Colin became a trustee of Chats Palace and this year a small exhibition of his work was installed in the recently refurbished Blue Room on the first floor of Chats Palace where it will stay for the foreseeable future. As with all his work it shows the working class of London in all its multifarious ethnic and cultural, working and non-working forms. Inquisitive, confident and outward looking. A timely and timeless corrective for the caricatures of 2016. Thank you Colin.

Peter Young

The Pepper and The Palace

Fragile Archivists would like to wish everyone all the best for 2016 – the 40th anniversary of the start of Chats Palace.

Look out for our anniversary exhibition later this year. In the meantime here is this month’s Red Pepper magazine’s feature on 40 years of Chats Palace (click on the link to read the full article)!

24 in pictures chats _124 in pictures chats_2

Available half-price from Chats Palace!

The story so far …

Visit our new page of Exhibitions and Talks and don’t forget that ‘Mike Gray – In Black and White’ photography exhibition is at Chats Palace bar throughout the Summer 2015 as well as the ‘Photographer Unknown’ next door in Chats gallery. Have a lovely Summer!

Mike Gray - In Black and White

Not a cupcake class in sight

Enlarged Lives – an exhibition of feminist related original silk screen posters is now on the walls of Chats Palace bar. Fragile Archivists invited Jess Baines, a researcher and member of See Red Women’s Workshop, to reflect on the experience of the womens movement during the 1980’s. Here is her response.

Collectively and individually these few posters provide wonderfully suggestive clues to some of the feminist and lesbian cultural activity of 1980’s London, as well as to the context in which it took place. Most of this activity had been set in motion a decade earlier as part of the women’s movement desire to come together and unravel the limitations of our own lives, not just through talking and protest, but creatively through writing, image making and performance.
Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_11

Women’s theatre groups for example had begun forming in the early 1970’s, out of frustration with the dearth of roles for women, even in the growing radical theatre movement. Groups performed, not just as in the posters shown here, at community arts venues and sympathetic theatres but also in women’s refuges and hospitals.
Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_12

The Women Artists Slide Library, set up in 1976, on the other hand was part of the larger women’s art and feminist art history movements that sought to challenge women’s absence from those fields; the image used in the poster here is from a work by the Italian Baroque female painter Artemisia Gentileschi, Self Portrait as an Allegory of Painting (1690’s).
Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_2

Photography became a crucial medium in recording women’s lives, and led to fascinating explorations in its domestic role, along with a growth of women’s groups, classes and exhibitions. It is hard to imagine now (perhaps) but ‘serious’ photography, because it was considered ‘technical’ was seen as a male domain.
Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_9
Technical confidence was something Lenthall Road Workshop, the feminist photography and screenprint centre, also aimed to encourage through its classes and ‘skills sharing’ approach. Women only classes gave women and girls the space to muck about and learn without hindrance.
Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_3

Lenthall Road was also part of the growth of feminist work with young women and girls, hinted at here by the poster they printed for Stoke Newington Girls Festival. Note the activities; motorbikes, self-defence, pool… Not a cupcake class in sight.
Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_6

Some of the posters also point to the development of women’s movement discussions and practices around ‘inclusion’. From the lines ‘all women welcome’, and ‘crèche facilities’, to the logo for wheelchair access, and the image of black and white hands on the Lesbian Strength & Gay Pride poster, there are signs of larger movement debates about participation, access and representation.

Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_1

With regard to iconography, it’s interesting that the once ubiquitous ‘women’s symbol’ doesn’t appear at all. Doubled (or tripled for lesbian ‘non-monogamy’), along with the double-headed axe, it had been part of the ‘lesbian symbol’. But on the aforementioned poster it’s the newer black triangle that’s used, adopted in the 1980’s as a counterpart to the pink triangle of gay rights and pride. Digging into the context of this particular poster would open up a 1980’s history of both a separation and coming together of lesbian and gay political and cultural activity. Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_10

Lesbian Strength was the name given to a series of independent marches prior to Gay Pride between 1983-88; the pride marches were felt to be male dominated and lesbians marginalised. But it was also the period when the now famous Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners was formed, the birth of the Greater London Council funded London Lesbian and Gay Centre (LLGC), and the appearance of Lesbian and Gay Units in leftist local authorities which would lead to the infamous Section 28 of 1988 and an important political coalition between lesbians and gay men to fight it. (Many lesbians continued working with gay men in the AIDS/HIV activism of the following years).

The Humanist Party poster included here, ‘Maggie wants your blood’, reminds us that all of this was taking place under the socially conservative right-wing neo-liberal politics of Thatcherism. Thatcher of course presided over a sustained attack on the left, from the dismantling of trade union power to the undermining of the ‘alternative left’, members of whom had helped shape the municipal socialism of the 1980’s and its sympathetic grant giving policies, that as the funding logos show, supported a fair few of the activities here.

Posters from Chats Palace Printshop_4

These posters offer a partial snapshot of a moment in the cultural history of the women’s movement, in a complex context of the movement’s own diversification and internal struggles, the hostile climate of 1980’s Britain, and a temporary period of institutional support. Each one of them offers a potential gateway to a rich history of political, social and cultural resistance and creativity in the pursuit of an ‘enlarged life’.

Related Links:

Jess Baines looks back at London’s printmaking workshops of the 1960s and 70s
Posters designed and printed by See Red Women’s Workshop
The Women’s Liberation Music Archive
Recording the history of Alternative Theatre, 1968-88

Mike Gray

Michael Leslie Gray – Hackney historian and community activist: born London March 3rd 1938, died Toledo 10th January 2015

Mike Gray, who has died in Spain at the age of 76, said that his life was defined by three locations Dulwich, Hackney and Mora de Toledo, Spain. He was a lifelong community activist and animateur, who was the first Chair of Chats Palace and who will be most remembered for his leading role in saving Sutton House Hackney. Read more 

David Fox and Martin Goodrich on Mike Gray at Chats Palace:

Bob Lee adds:
Mike Gray, who was instrumental in discovering and securing Chats Palace for the people of Hackney and beyond, passed away in a Toledo hospital on Saturday January 10th 2015. Back in the mid 1970’s, Mike, along with Freeform (a voluntary sector organisation then based in Dalston) and other local organisations took up the battle to transform the old library in Chatsworth Road into a community project that lives on to this day.

Mike Gray also discovered the Elizabethan Sutton House and fought a successful campaign to have it restored and turned into another Hackney miracle. His portrait was/is on the staircase in Sutton House.

Mike Gray

Mike Gray

Brian Walker adds:
I am so sad to hear that our good mate Mike Gray has died. Although he has been very ill for the last couple of years it is still a shock. Mike was a good friend and a very fair and dutiful Chairman of Chats Palace. We never realised at the time what a great campaigner and forward thinking organiser he was. He made such an impact on Homerton and Hackney, but to many of us he was just our friend and companion, Mike. Thank you! RIP Mike.

Photomonth Events


Photomonth events at Chats Palace


40th anniversary of a Women’s Photographic Collective

Sunday 12th October, 2pm – 5pm


Sierra Exif JPEG

The Hackney Flashers Collective was active as a feminist agitprop group in London from 1974 to 1980. The group produced two photographic/graphic exhibitions on large panels addressing complex ideas about women’s lives as workers and as mothers, inside and outside the home – Women and Work and Who’s Holding the Baby?

To mark the recent launch of the Hackney Flashers website, the group are calling a meeting of the generations: how did they work as a collective in the 1970s? How is the struggle for the most basic of women’s rights being carried on now, forty years later?
A rare chance to see some of the exhibition panels from the time too!


Exhibition ‘Photographer Unknown’


Thursday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm

A selection from the 40 year old Chats Palace archive portraying Homerton scenes and characters through the ad hoc documentation of a group of voluntary and often uncredited photographers. Portraits range from casual snaps to more formal studies and in passing offer a glimpse of the area, within our living memory.

Photographer unknown grid2

Joan Littlewood and Stratford Fair

Adapted from ‘Community Art an Anthropological Perspective’ by Kate Crehan, 2011 

Free Form Arts Trust, which was instrumental in the foundation of Chats Palace (1976) and in starting the annual Hackney Marsh Fun Festival (1974 – 1995), had previously organised their first neighbourhood festival on the Keir Hardie Estate in Canning Town in 1972. It was a seven-week programme of different live arts events, many with a strong participatory component.

One visitor to the Festival was Joan Littlewood, one of the most influential figures in postwar British theatre. Working in an old Victorian theatre located in the East End rather than the West End home of middle-class theatre, her productions in the 1960s, as British playwright David Edgar put it in 2006, ‘popularised a high-energy, rough and ready, Anglicised version of Brecht’s suddenly influential political theatre’.

In the early 1970s, Stratford, the home of Littlewood’s Theatre Royal, was a somewhat desolate place, supposedly in the process of being ‘developed’. The local school had just closed, and there were many empty sites, left vacant by developers in the hope of future profits. Despite Littlewood’s declared aim of creating a ‘people’s theatre’ and while her theatre may have been more successful at attracting working-class audiences than traditional West End theatres, to many local people it was still essentially an outpost of alien middle-class culture.

Well aware of this problem, Littlewood was excited when she visited the 1972 Canning Town Fun Festival – like the Free Form artists, she had a strong commitment to making art, in her case theatre, that could reach working-class people. She suggested that  Free Form organised a programme of art events, to be called ‘Stratford Fair’, intended to bring her theatre out of its box and into the local community and to get the local community into the theatre. The story of this collaboration reveals something of the difficulty of bridging the gulf between high art and popular culture.

Martin Goodrich, co-founder of the Free Form Arts Trust, remembers:

To celebrate Joan Littlewood’s 100th birthday anniversary, Chats Palace is taking part in the nationwide weekend of Fun Palaces on Saturday October 4, 10-4pm. Come and meet the Fragile Archivists to watch a wide range of historical and modern footage, pick up material about the origins of Chats Palace and much more.

One Sunday Over The Lea

To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the first ‘Hackney Marsh Fun Festival’ back in the summer of 1974 the Fragile Archivists will present a number of articles over the next few months celebrating aspects of the Marshes and Marsh related culture.

To kick things off Brian Walker offers a personal reminiscence… and a little song.

This short piece was submitted to the My London Film competition, held by the East End Film Festival in partnership with Time Out London and YouTube.

We just got the news that the film made the competition’s official TOP 15 list and will be screened  this Saturday afternoon at 1.30pm as part of a special programme at One Stop Film Shop, being held in partnership with Little White Lies in Old Street Station.

We hope to see you there for screenings of Top 15 short films about London!

The King, the Mayor and the Community Artist

Martin Goodrich, co-founder of the Free Form Community Arts Trust, speaks here of his understanding of socialism and art; and of his grandfather – Henry Edwin Goodrich – the first Labour councillor and the first Labour MP of Hackney. It so happened that we discovered in the Hackney Archives this digitised silent 16mm footage showing the opening of Nisbet House, in which Henry Goodrich, then Mayor of Hackney, accompanies King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in their tour of the estate (1939). Nisbet House still stands on Homerton High Street across Brooksby’s Walk, a stone’s throw away from Chats Palace.

Part 1: Martin Goodrich speaks of his grandfather, socialism and art

Disclaimer. All reasonable efforts have been made to ascertain the copyright situation with this film but please contact Hackney Archives with any queries or further information.

Part 2: Martin Goodrich on memory and community

Hollywood in Homerton

Studying the Chats Palace past programmes we were surprised to come across two dance acts with the same name. Surely some mistake, they must be the same person?

From the April 1981 Chats Palace programme:

An Evening with Will Gaines – Tap Dancer Extraordinary

Born in Detroit, Will Gaines is one of the few remaining tap dancers of the Vaudeville tradition. Himself a bill-topper at the London Palladium, Will has toured with a host of stars whose names read like a showbiz Who’s Who of the last forty years, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lenny Bruce, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holliday, Judy Garland, Charlie Watts and Ian Dury. A night not to be missed. £2.00. (80p OAPs/kids)

Brian Walker remembers…

Will Gaines was a black American Tap Dancer whose gimmick was to tap dance in a pair of heavy working boots. He appeared at Chats Palace Music Hall quite a few times, and at our shows in Victoria Park etc.

My home is my shoes:

Will Gaines

©David Corio. Tap Dancer Will Gaines performing at the Wag Club, Wardour Street, London on 21 October 1984

David Corio adds…

The Will Gaines show I photographed was at the Wag Club around the time that the new jazz scene was becoming very hip and fashionable (early 80’s). Will Gaines and Slim Gaillard were the two US veterans who had been in London on and off since the 60s and although they were now getting on in years were still full of enthusiasm and energy for the scene and their music. Will Gaines came on with baseball cap pulled down low and a rectangular piece of plywood under his arm, placed it on the floor, sat on a stool, shut his eyes and started to tap. He was accompanied by sax, guitar and double bass. As the show progressed he became more animated standing up and filling out the musical gaps with great swirls of seemingly effortless tap dancing interspersed with stories about his days with Cab Calloway and the jazz scenes of Harlem and Chicago in the 1950s. Now in his 80s he still makes occasional appearances.

A short conversation with Will Gaines:

Brian Walker again…

The mysterious Bubba Gaines was another American dancer and actor who came to Chats Palace many years ago, if my memory is correct he was on a tour of London venues, sponsored by the GLC. He was a very genial black man who charmed the about 100 people who attended. I have seen him in a few Hollywood films over the years.

Phil Sawyer remembers Bubba Gaines and Honi Coles performing at Chats Palace:

Alan Rossiter contributes…

Bubba Gaines and Honi Coles were a tap dancing duo and were sponsored by GLAA (Greater London Arts Association no longer in existence). It was one of the most magical nights at Chats as these were genuine Hollywood hoofers, the last remaining pair of the famous Copasetics. They demonstrated ‘buck and wing’ and asked if anybody in the audience had heard of this and there was a guy from Victoria Park who said he did and he had brought his tap shoes with him. Bubba Gaines invited him up on stage and they all danced together. It was brilliant and I am sure that man was totally thrilled and never forgot that amazing evening.

Cookie, Coles and Gaines 1974:

Black Tap at CP

Mike Gray concludes…

Leslie Bubba Gaines died in 1997 and had an obituary in the New York Times

He was part of a tap dancing group called Copasetics. That was the name which we used for publicity for his appearance in Chats. The two Gaines must be related in some way. Hope I am still dancing at 82!!

Glad we asked! Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say. Or as Lena Horne is quoted in the ‘The Class Act of Tap’ short film: “Honi made butterflies look clumsy”.

International Women’s day 1988

Welcome to a new season of exhibitions and talks on the early years of Chats Palace and associated local archiving themes. We start by celebrating International Women’s Day by showing this collage from the 1988 Women’s Day event, held in the Chats Bar. If anyone could offer any memories or anecdotes of the meal or tell us about the characters in the pictures, then please do get in touch.

International women's day 1988 copy

Radical Hackney: what legacy?

Radical community arts centres in 1970s and 1980s Hackney: what legacy? – a recent discussion at Open School East introduced by Ken Worpole

“We are now looking back over this vast period of 40 years from 2013 to 1973 and it seems to me like only 5 years ago. This idea that everybody could make art was so strong, and Hackney was such a vibrant area with such a strong radical political tradition, that it was no surprise that it became one of the national geographical areas where community arts really flourished. One of the questions that I hope will be addressed this evening is whether there are real continuities between now and the 1970s as we once hoped there were between the 1970s and the 1930s.”


This debate aimed to explore late 20th century experiments with arts and communities in East London, and the position of contemporary communal spaces within this lineage. The event brought together writers, researchers and organisers who were involved in setting up radical community arts centres in the 1970s and 1980s, or have been revisiting the histories of such places as Centerprise (Dalston, 1971-2012), Chats Palace (Homerton, since 1976) and Cultural Partnerships (De Beauvoir Town, 1983-1999) .

Fragile Archivists joined oral historian Rosa Vilbr and Cultural Partnerships co-founder Graham Downes to talk about the origins of the above-mentioned spaces, key moments and challenges in their history, as well as presenting oral and visual research gathered in recent months. The speakers were joined by Amit S. Rai who is involved with the recently initiated Common House in Bethnal Green, and Brian Walker, an early organiser of Chats Palace.


Here is an extract from what Fragile Archivists presented on the night:

The early Chats Palace programme evolved around two large scale community productions. The first one was the Hackney Marsh Fun Festival which took place in the summer on Daubeney Fields. The two day event, which started in 1974 was a prototype community festival and in many ways became a key reason why Chats Palace itself came into existence, through the need for a permanent base for the year-round festival programme. From extensive festival footage we showed a little montage from 1977.

In the early years of the organisation’s development Chats Palace worked closely with Freeform Arts Trust, who provided a programme of outreach workshops. We played another clip from 1977 and relates to the Queen’s silver jubilee of that year. It’s interesting to see how the newly formed Chats Palace were not afraid to work with the popular culture of the day and used the opportunity to make direct connections with the people on the estates. They set up jubilee support units who went around the local estates and offered practical support in things like site decoration.

Chats Palace and Freeform’s positive view of community art engagement wasn’t always embraced by everybody as this little clip of found footage demonstrates.

Remember remember

“I [Alan Rossiter] came to Hackney to work on Hackney Marsh Adventure Playground which is down at Daubeney Fields, next to Kingsmead Estate, in 1972. It wasn’t too long before we came up with the idea of doing a firework show on Daubeney Fields, which took off great, where you had a cabaret event and the fireworks as a backdrop.

Culturally we were part and parcel of the alternative arts scene of the time, begun with people like Joan Littlewood. People were thinking right, what is my art about? it should be about engaging with people. How do we do that?

So one of the key things was celebration. Another was engagement. When we went on to do the Fun Festivals we would set up meetings in each of the areas like Clapton Park Estate. The number of people involved at that level was quite extrordinary, that’s where we first got in touch with people like Brian Walker, an incredible character…”

It was a good time to be in and around Hackney

Tonight Chats Palace hosts reggae extravaganza celebrating some of the best Queens of Reggae. The Fragile Archivists talked to David Corio about the reggae and blues club scene in the 1970s/80s Hackney.

© David Corio - The Four Aces Club, London 1986

© David Corio – The Four Aces Club, London 1986

David Corio began his professional career in 1978 taking photographs for New Musical Express, followed by The Face, Time Out, and Black Echoes. After a stint as a music writer at City Limits, he worked as a freelance photographer for the Daily Telegraph, The Times, Q, Theatre Royal Stratford, and Greensleeves Records, among others.

“The years since have robbed David’s photos of none of their urgency or elegance and in the instance of fallen stars like Marley, Simone, Fela and Dury, lent them poignancy. The unusual candour of the portraits he produced were a tribute to David’s easy way around people, celebrities or otherwise.”  Neil Spencer, former editor of the NME

Fan at Misty In Roots concert Stockwell, London 1977

© David Corio – Reggae fans, London 1977

You can see David Corio’s photograph of London Reggae fans as part of the current photography exhibition of young people from the Photochats archive at Chats Palace.

for more details and opening hours see “You’re only young once”.

On spectacles and new communities

from Brian Walker’s recollection of the HMFF:

One Arena Spectacle was more spectacular than planned, “Johnny Concho’s Wild West Show” was in full swing, the ‘townsfolk’ defending the jail from a band of mounted raiders, the crowd roared as Johnny Concho’s followers set off a fusillade of pistol fire and roared even louder when the guns set fire to the hay bales and eventually the whole town, reducing it to ashes. There were more cheers as the Fire Brigade made its entrance. The festival made all the papers next day.

All this fun and enjoyment had an effect that is still felt today, because of the vast numbers of people moved by the wholesale demolition of the area, new communities were formed when they were rehoused. All new communities are uncomfortable with each other, some people finding themselves living near people from different countries and of a different race, the festival simply introduced all these groups to each other, with friendships being formed that are still going today. It was difficult to be stand-offish to someone dressed as a baby, swigging pints of beer in the Pram Race, especially if you were dressed as the Mum, swigging even more pints of beer!

Elusive 1973 poster

We started the blog with a request to search for the missing 1973 Hackney Marsh Fun Festival poster. Now, one year older and wiser, we realise the festival started in 1974 and there was never a 1973 poster.

We are returning to celebrate the festival with a couple of clips and wish you a good summer. Looking forward to seeing you in the autumn for the film screenings.

During the many years that the Festival took place, hundreds of performers, bands and circus acts appeared throughout the weekend. Some of the acts that come to mind are the Great Indian dancers, a huge and exciting dance group of Sikh ‘Warriors’ who made you hold your breath as their swords flashed dangerously close to each other, The Greatest Show on Legs, a hilarious and daring group of men who performed ‘The Balloon Dance’ in the nude, always threatening to show what was behind the balloons, until they finally did, and Prof. Tommy Shand, who had a trail of kids following him as he tramped around the field playing his saxophone that produced bubbles from its horn.

A lot of local reggae and ska bands arrived, some quite famous like ‘Black Slate’, and local heroes 7th Heaven, and of course the wonderful ‘Jah Globe’. A church service always started the Sunday festivities and the fun started again. It was not unusual to see and hear a Punk Band competing with the Hackney Philharmonic Orchestra, or a gospel choir next to a raunchy jazz singer. In the food area, Indian Curries, vegetarian food and West Indian delights vied with Jellied Eels and Cockles, and Nye Bevan Tenants never ever let us down by providing a good old cup of tea and a game of Bingo.

See here for the recollections of the HMFF from Brian Walker.

Happy 100th anniversary – May 31st

Launch of poster exhibition from the Fragile Archivists

**You are welcome to see the exhibition throughout the summer and autumn – please contact for opening hours**


community arts / free form / chatsworth road market / kingsmead estate / music hall / inclusive theatre / homerton grove adventure playground / pensioner’s club / christmas shows / social benefits / disability arts / cabaret / gigs / political campaigns / hackney marsh fun festival / muppets / notting hill carnival / silkscreen printshop / workshops

The Monkey Stomp Blues present live and direct from the eastern corners of Norfolk the Americana folklore stylings of the Vagaband
in a rare Hackney visit – from 7pm till 11pm ‘ish

Saturday 1st June

An exhibition of stories by pupils from Kingsmead, Daubeney and Rushmore School celebrating “The secrets of Chatsworth Road”

Storytelling workshops throughout the day – families come and celebrate

Coming up in the autumn from the Fragile Archivists

a programme of screenings and talks

films about Hackney by John Smith –

Somewhere in Hackney (1980) film and discussion

‘Hackney Captured’ form the Rio Cinema projection room

Miners’ Strike, GLC abolition, the Wapping dispute and more

Played at Chats

Here is a list of many well known music and cabaret artists who have performed down the years at Chats Palace. Can you tell us if we have missed anybody out or if there is an act you think should have been included?

Adamski Alan Elsdon Alan Weeks Alexi Sayle Ali Bongo Alias Ron Kavana Alison Moyet (Screaming Abdabs) Alternative TV Amazulu Andrew Lawrence Andy de la Tour Annie Whitehead Arlenes Asian Dub Foundation Attila the Stockbroker Au Pairs

Bad Manners Band of Holy Joy Barb Jungr Benjamin Zephaniah Bheki Mseluku Black Slate Blaggers ITA Blyth Power Boot Hill Foot Tappers Boy Blue Bronski Beat

Carol Grimes Cast of the Muppet Show (Inc Jim Henson) Chats Arkestra Chris Lynham Christine Pilgrim Chumbawumba Citizen Fish Clea and McLoud Clifford Jarvis and the Jazz Prophets Clive Dunn Club Dog Colin Sell Cornershop Cravats Crayfish Five Crazy World of Arthur Brown Cropdusters Cunning Stunts Curtis Walker

Dangerous Designs David Rappaport Deltones Derek Bailey Desmond O’Connor Desree Dolly Mixture Drug Barons Dudu Pukwana

Eddie Nestor Eddie Tan Tan Thornton Electric Landladies Elton Dean Quintet Energy Orchard Evan Parker Evelyn Chronicle

Felix Dexter Floyd Lloyd and Potato 5 Flying Pickets Foghorn Leghorn Fran Landesman Frank Chickens Frank Sidebottom Fun-Da-Mental

Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band Geoff Bradford Gertrude Gina Yashire Gordon Giltrap Grand Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Gretchen Hoffner Gymslips

Hackney Musicians Collective Hackney-Five O Harry Becket Quartet Harry Enfield (Dusty & Dick) Heart and Soul Henning Wehn Howling Wilf and the Vee Jays (James Hunter)

Ian Cognito Ian Saville Ian Shaw IDJ Dancers Ivor Dembina Ivory Coasters

Jackie Leven Jah Bunny Jah Globe Jan Allain and Ilse Desire Jenny Lecoat Jim Dvorjak John Agard John Butcher John Cleary John Cooper Clark John Dowie John Hegley (& the Popticians) John Otway John Stevens Johnny Crescendo Juice on the Loose Julie Felix June Tabor Justin Hinds

Kaliber 44 Keith Allen Ken Campbell Kim Noble King Blues King Prawn

Labi Siffre Larry Stabbins Leona Lewis Leyton Buzzards Lol Coxhill London Swingphonia Lookout Lorraine Bowen Experience Louis Moholo Louise Rutkowski Lucy Ray Luddy Samms and the Deliverers Luke Wright

Mark Steel Mark Thomas Maroon Town Mat Fraser Maxine Daniels Men in Coats Mekons Mick Hutton Mike Osborne Mike Westbrook Miles Crawford Milton Jones Miniscule of Sound Mint Juleps Miss Behave Monkey Business Muckers

Nerves Newtown Neurotics Nick Revel

Omar One Style MDV Orchestre Jazira Oxy and the Morons

Panic Brothers Patrick Fitzgerald Pippa Evans Poison Girls Porky the Poet (Phil Jupitus) Prag Vec

Radical Dance Faction Ray Presto Red Beans and Rice Renees Restarts Rob Newman Robert Wyatt Roberto Pla’s Latin Jazz Ensemble Rory McLeod Rudi Lickwood Rudimental Ruff Ruff and Ready

Sarah Jane Morris and Happy End Seddik Zebiri and the Seeds of Creation  See You In Vegas Sierra Maestra Simon Munnery (Alan Parker Urban Warrior) Sin Dios Skint Video Soho Southlanders Spare Tyre Steve Ignorant (Crass) Steve Murray Steve Williamson Quartet Subhumans Sunshine Boys

T. Rextasy The XX Thompson Twins Thrum Tippa Irie Tofu Love Frogs Tofu Twins (Stir Fry Club) Tony Allen Topcats Tottenham AK47’s Tragedy Trans Global Underground Trojans TV Personalities Tymon Dogg

UK Subs

Vincent Hayes

Walking Wounded Well Oiled Sisters Wes McGhee Will Gaines Willie Garnett Big Band Woody Bop Muddy


See here for some of those posters 

Cabaret and theme nights posters-9076