The Raphael Samuel History Centre is working with The Kensington Narrators to deliver a Heritage Lottery Funded project to create an archive of the community’s arts response to the Grenfell Tower Fire. It contributes to the preservation of North Kensington’s local heritage and is a creative, educative and empowering response to the tragedy in that community that will document, preserve and exhibit the response to the fire, while also celebrating the community in all its diversity, resilience, collaboration, colour and vibrancy. It will build capacity in the community to continue to document, preserve, and interpret our culture, art and heritage in a format that can be widely accessed for many generations to come. The Raphael Samuel History Centre, using historian volunteeers, will provide the community with training and equipment with the aim of building a legacy of hope for young people by empowering them with tools and education to create and preserve their own heritage in the future.
The archive and heritage project will be run by a team of long-standing local art project coordinators, teachers and youth groups from North Kensington with the support of the RSHC.
The archive will centre around the outstanding production of creativity and testimony that has been carefully created by the wider community during a period of intense emotion and historical change.
The Kensington Narrators conducted a year of unfunded voluntary, community consultation before beginning this project, and is responding to consistent calls from the community to create a long-lasting, open-access, community-led archive that can help them tell their story and make sure it gets preserved. During the consultation period it also became apparent that permanent physical storage, massive gigabyte storage and professional cataloguing facilities were not available to meet people’s immediate archiving needs. These needs have now become urgent, as people are running out of digital and physical storage space, material is being destroyed and lost, and stories are being forgotten.
The archive will be held at the Bishopsgate Institute, and managed by a board of trustees made up of North Kensington residents with the necessary skills, experience and interest.
The Bishopsgate, which specializes in community archives and has the latest digital storage technology, will also advise on data protection and rights. Community volunteers will catalogue the archive, and copies of this catalogue will be available online and in hard copy to any organization that wants them including local schools and libraries. A lot of the physical material will be digitized and put online with the permission of the creator/author.
THE DIGITAL EXHIBIT
Our partner, FerArts will work with young people from North Kensington to create a permanent digital exhibition of the archival material and which highlights the incredible artistic, design and technical abilities of that community.
TRAINING COMMUNITY MEMBERS
The North Kensington Archive and Heritage Project will recruit community volunteers and train them in archiving techniques and cataloguing.
In the second half of the project, the RSHC will run a series of workshops aimed at young people, showing them how to use archives to learn about the history of their community and to create art, video and written projects inspired by this history.
THE KENSINGTON NARRATORS
Kensington Narrators began in a local church and is made-up of community members and local arts professionals many of whom formed part of the wider-community emergency volunteer task-force in the months preceding the fire, who then chose to focus on delivering and partnering with projects that had and artistic or narrative purpose (such as after school art workshops for teenagers, family art opportunities, turning carnival green and producing archive films). Many of the members were working on seperate creative projects before 2017 and have since chosen to work collaboratively and cross-organizationally in order to: support each other, better serve their community and make a unified effort to counteract the mainstream media narrative by creating more diverse opportunities for people to get their work seen amongst themselves and by mainstream audiences.
THE BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE
The Bishopsgate Institute’s vision: Dedicated to opening minds, challenging perceptions and enriching lives. The Bishopsgate Institute’s printed and archival collections cover a variety of subject areas exploring the experiences of everyday people, and facilitating the study of history from below. We are also home to a growing number of photographic collections (with a focus on street photography), and oral history collections created by heritage projects and community groups. We have world-renowned collections on London history, labour and socialist history, freethought and humanism, co-operation, and protest and campaigning. Our mission is to provide welcoming and inspiring spaces for people with a thirst for knowledge to learn and flourish. Through our library, historic collections, courses and cultural events, we enrich, entertain, and stimulate independent thought in a vibrant city environment. Since 1895 we have been a home for ideas and debate, learning and enquiry; a place where culture, heritage and learning meet, and where independent thought is cherished.
We will be arranging a tour of the Bishopsgate Archive for community members and volunteers. Join our mailing list to be kept aware of these dates.
FerArts is an artist led non-profit arts organisation, curating, collaborating exhibitions, developing community projects and supporting emerging creatives and artists management at 0% commission. We promote urban art and photography from artists influenced by the UK street culture through innovative concepts shows and platforming creatives aged 18-30.
As active artists we follow and share a social ethos of crediting artists for their work with #TAGITDONTOWNIT and thrive in building inspiring networks within the art scene to support getting artists paid #INVESTINART.
BIRKBECK, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
Founded in 1823, Birkbeck, University of London, is a world-class research and teaching institution, a vibrant centre of academic excellence and London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education. Our evening teaching allows students to progress their life goals during the day, through work, volunteering or internships.