Our team celebrated Black History Month by visiting seven local and virtual attractions and events in their corner of London.
Helping you find out what you can do to show up for Black History Month. Our team is committed to amplifying the unheard and marginalised histories and voices of individuals, communities and societies. After such a long period of being unable to visit physical spaces and connect with others in person, we felt Black History Month was a great opportunity to change this.
Read below to find out more and find something to visit yourself!
1. Black Culture in Britain Photography Exhibition at Crossrail Garden
“Throughout the month of October, Canary Wharf have a number of exhibitions for Black History Month, the best of which is in Crossrail Garden. Make your way up to the garden via the Adams Plaza Bridge (where there is an ongoing Camille Walala mural as an added bonus). In the garden you can explore the Black Culture in Britain Photography Exhibition and learn more about the artists who won this competition. At the end of the garden, you can then experience Black Britain: Writing Back. You can print off a short story written by a number of Black Writers, curated by Bernadine Evaristo (Author of Girl, Woman, Other). It’s on until 31 October and completely free.” – Alana Drew, User Experience Coordinator
Find out more info here.
2. Poetic Map of Freedom by Southwark Libraries
“The Poetic Map of Freedom was an open call out for submissions of poetry surrounding the words: Enslavement / Freedom / Legacies / Shame / Connection / Joy by Southwark Libraries. They post one new poem each day on their twitter account. It’s been nice to take a little bit of time each day with a cup of tea and slow down and read or listen to the poem. It makes you slow down and take a moment to reflect on each individuals experience.” – Clara Nordin, Volunteer Manager
Read the Poetic Map of Freedom now.
3. Rita Keegan: “Somewhere Between There and Here” at South London Gallery.
Rita Keegan’s first solo exhibition in more than fifteen years features artworks that reflect the intersection of new media experimentation, feminist practice and the Black Arts Movement of the 1980s.
“I really liked how Keegan combines her own family photographs with painting, textiles, scents and historical images to explore topics such as self-expression, black female identity and the African diaspora. my favourite part was the ceremonial robe displayed among scents like rosemary and sage that reflects Keegan’s own quote ‘I’m made of many places, people and things’.” – Sophie Imber, Engagement Coordinator
4. Black History Month 2021 at the Royal Opera House
Throughout October, the Royal Opera House featured performances, events and social media takeovers.
“I watched a panel discussion organised by the Royal Opera House – Insights: Storytelling in Opera. Opera is definitely considered an artform that only appeals to a particular class or race of people. This panel shared sharp insights into what needs to be done to make opera more diverse. Action is being taken across the entire artform; more representation in the performers we see on stage, more diverse stories on stage and more inclusion in creative teams. But there is still a long way to go.
One comment that stuck with me came from the tenor, Lawrence Brownlee, “The stage needs to look like what you walk out of the door and see”, which is especially true in such a multicultural and diverse city like London. The discussion is still available to watch as part of the ROH’s Black History Month programme.” – Rebecca Shellim, Operations Manager.
5. Local council Redbridge’s Black History Month event programme: Black Brits African and Caribbean Community Fair
“London Councils come together every year for Black History Month. As part of my borough, Redbridge, I visited the Black Brits African and Caribbean Community Fair. Although London has markets year-round, something about local and intentional gathering seems to encourage engagement – between event organisers, stall owners and visitors – creating a very different experience. Perhaps it shouldn’t feel that exceptional, but in a city where we can often feel an invisible 1 in 9 million, and in an increasingly virtual world, it does. So like that, 30 minutes can change your day and your perspective.” – Laura Turner, Partnerships Coordinator.
Check out events in your local council here.
6. Channel B by Nine Nights at the Institute of Contemporary Arts
Channel B is an audio-visual exhibition about Black futurism created by the Black-owned art, music, and creative initiative Nine Nights. Nine Nights emerged in May 2020 to counter the systemic racial inequalities of the global music industry by exploring new modes of artistic empowerment.
“Sci-Fi, music, technology and art come together in this exhibition buzzing with unfamiliar-familiar sounds. Walking through the exhibit was disorientating – in a good way – making me wonder about the deeper societal messaging and ideas each artist is portraying. I particularly loved the language and story weaving together the exhibits – powerful and stinging whilst darkly funny and satirical.” – Tara Cooper, Head of Communications
The exhibition is on until January 2022 and free to visit on Tuesdays. Find more info here.
7. Art in Hackney’s Streets: Veronica Ryan and Ridley Road Stories
Simply visiting and walking around Hackney means a chance to experience art representing Hackney’s important Black culture.
“Veronica Ryan’s fruit sculptures have been placed at the top of Mare Street in Hackney. I found them to be an interesting and eye-catching way of remembering those of the Windrush generation who have played such an important role in shaping Hackney today.
The photographs found on Ridley Road Stories (Part 2) are very striking. I loved reading the wee stories about each of the people photographed – fascinating glimpses into the many lives and histories that intermingle in this part of London. I also love the ethos of the project – that art should be on the streets for everyone to see.” – Ashleigh Brown, Speaker Scout and Applications Manager
Find out more about Veronica Ryan’s sculptures here and Ridley Road Stories (Part 2) here.
Enjoyed our list? Have something to add? Let us know!