Category Archives: What’s on

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!

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”.

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.

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

Forgotten photocopies

From the Chats Palace archive here are a selection of A3 photocopies, a sometimes overlooked or forgotten aspect of pre-digital communication and technology.

Publicising events from the late 70’s to the early 90’s they are rich with local echoes of the not so distant past…Oxy And The Morons…081…Free For All…Belt and Braces…Buses 35, 22a, 22b…crèche facilities…Exploring Black Arts…Chats Arkestra…silly games nite…The Crayfish Five…Double Edge Theatre Company…darts knockout…Music Hall…

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




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