Community art has been introduced to the walls of the ground floor at Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street in a community gallery and a Church Street Traders exhibition.
The exhibitions are open to the public from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
Visit the new community gallery at Westminster City Hall to take a look at the latest exhibition, which celebrates the city’s diverse communities.
The display is largely drawn from over 6,000 pictures and documents stored at Westminster Archives to show just some of the people from the Black, African, Asian and Caribbean communities who made their mark on Westminster’s history.
A 1950s jazz band, a 1571 death certificate of a mysterious woman and a photo of Brazilian soccer genius Pelé are among rarely seen photographs on display. The earliest exhibit is the death certificate of 'Margaret, a moor', who is registered as being buried in September 1571. While thought to be one of the first official mentions of a black person living in the UK, little is known about the mysterious Margaret other than the fact she was buried at St Martin’s in the Field.
The 20th century part of the exhibition captures the waves of post-Second World War immigration and the Windrush generation. One image captures a jazz band performing at the Soho fair in 1955 while an evocative 1958 photo depicts an Asian woman sketching Marylebone railway station in 1958. Other pictures show the early origins of Chinatown and its gradual transformation into an internationally-known attraction.
The later 20th century saw the emergence of black celebrities in sports and art, and one striking image from 1983 shows an adoring crowd around Brazilian footballing superstar Pelé when he visited the Stowe club for boys in Paddington in 1983.
The Black History Month exhibition will be in place until 17 January 2020. It is curated by the councils BAME Staff Network as part of a series to events to mark Black History Month and Westminster Archives.
The gallery is available to view weekdays from 10am to 4pm. Please visit the ground floor reception on arrival.
The community art gallery is a revolving programme based on key events in the national and local calendar. The exhibitions open up the council's archives to more people through exhibits that present both historical and contemporary narratives to tell the story of Westminster whilst also featuring community content.
We are seeking opportunities to collaborate with local arts and community organisations to develop the displays. The gallery will provide an exciting new showcase to represent Westminster today as a vibrant, creative hub which celebrates diversity and inclusivity, alongside its rich local heritage.
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The first exhibition was displayed from June to September 2019 to celebrate the development of West End theatre from its origins to the present day. It drew on material from the Westminster Libraries and Archives theatre collection, one of the most significant collections of theatre history material in Britain.
This selection was largely based on a recent exhibition of 19th century theatrical ephemera at the National Theatr alongside programmes of 20th century performances and documentation of West End LIVE, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year.
Market traders and other workers in Church Street were photographed by local resident Rosalind Hobley to showcase the community that is at the heart of the area. She says: "I wanted to take the stallholders, bakers and shopkeepers out of their normal surroundings and spend a little time with them creating a formal and classical type of portrait.
"Church Street is a unique place in London with its mix of fruit, veg and fish stalls, street food and utlility shops at one end and the fascinating world of Alfies Antiques and all the independent and quirky arts and and antiques dealers' shops at the other. I hope these portraits will inspire people to visit and find out more."
Eight of the portraits are on display on the ground floor reception of Westminster City Hall until September 2020.
The project was funded by the Create Church Street fund to support arts and culture in the area.