‘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 Archivistscontributed 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’.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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