Category Archives: Posters

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


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!

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.
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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.
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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.

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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

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

Some enchanted evenings

Brian Walker recalls the days of Music Hall at Chats Palace:

In the early days of Chats Palace, Mike Grey, a local historian and stalwart of the community, was instrumental in getting a Blue Plaque placed on a house in Graham Road where Music Hall superstar Marie Lloyd once lived. To celebrate this historic occasion Chats staged an ‘Old Time Music Hall’, and so it began. So popular was it that it was decided to make it a regular event.

Unveiling of the Blue Plaque to Marie Lloyd, 1977 © Mike Gray / Chats Palace

Soon regular customers and people from all over London turned up every month, and a group of local families became involved in supporting the shows and in time formed The Homerton Volunteers. This support continued for nearly 16 years. Eventually the Volunteers were responsible for running the Music Hall.

At first all performers were professional, but local and would be entertainers were encouraged to take part. However the success of the shows meant that many professional artistes asked to appear and eventually Chats had a reputation for fun and audience participation. It became so popular that at one time that Saturday night shows were repeated on Sundays as well.

Many famous people came to perform, faces seen on TV brought a bit of glamour to Homerton, amongst these were the legendary Clive Dunn of Dad’s Army fame, and believe it or not, the whole Muppet Company. Many old Variety turns found a place to perform their nostalgic acts bringing a lot of traditional skills that younger people had never seen before, but our local performers still had a chance to get up and do their bit.

The Homerton Volunteers with Animal the Muppet, 29 March 1980

The Music Hall was taken to many local festivals and venues, working at The Hackney Show every year, The GLC shows and even on the back of a lorry in The Easter Parade at Battersea Park. When The Hackney Empire was reopened, Chats Palace Music Hall put on one of the first Traditional Variety shows to be staged there.

What wonderful happy days!  Marie Lloyd would have loved it!

See here for a selection of posters publicising Music Hall nights.

Community and political benefit nights

Benefit nights have always been a regular part of the evening entertainment programme at Chats Palace, reflecting both national and local concerns of the day. The group of posters shown here promote events for local projects (Victoria Park Adventure Playground, About Turn Enterprises), issues of concern to local communities (Trevor Monerville Campaign, Sickle Cell) and international campaigns of the day (Anti-Apartheid).

Click below ‘Continue reading’ for more posters and stories.

Political benefits-1

Political benefits-9

Political benefits-4

Continue reading

Happy New Year

Newsletter front

What has been done so far?

We started the weekly blog in September. It has been well received, with an average of 30 people viewing it daily. Many social history and local organisations have been extremely supportive:  

What is Chats Palace? is a great new website covering the history of the venue
The Radical History of Hackney”

…This archive is a real treat and a true part of East London’s design heritage…
Rob Alderson from “It’s nice that”

…The images will fascinate social observers, illustrating not just alternative society advertising styles but reflecting local political and social issues of the time…
David Altheer from “Loving Dalston”

Whilst a wide range of people have contributed stories and anecdotes…

…It (The Chambermaids) was an epic, joyful production…participants told me how good it was to be involved in something that was about people like them. Anyway, fond memories and I’ve still got the t-shirt, fading now, but…Kathleen

…I often reflect upon how getting involved in directing and writing at a young age has helped me transfer my skills on many different levels. The urgency to support and empower women and artists in the local community was totally needed but very rewarding…Iesha

…These are marvellous. What a nice Friday surprise. I remember some of those gigs. Brilliant. Thanks so much for making me smile today…Lesley


coming up in 2013

archival footage on super 8 and VHS
articles and artwork covering Music Hall, International Women’s Day, Senior Citizens, Carnival
interviews with the founders of Chats Palace and community activists