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Black History Month through the lens

 

Tower Hamlets Council is celebrating Black History Month by delivering Photo – Open, a vivid virtual photography exhibition from 1 October. The exhibition will feature more than 50 images covering diverse subjects including portraits, demonstrations, women at work, carnivals, musicians, dancers and more.

Over the summer, the council asked budding photographers to send in images that they thought best represented Black History Month. Over 100 images were shared. A panel of six selected a variety of images to feature in the exhibition.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “We are proud of the cultural and ethnic diversity of Tower Hamlets and Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the lives and contributions of all those with African and Caribbean descent to British society.”

Images displayed include a series of Sarah Ainslie’s black and white photos of local women at work, Ade Okelarin’s stunning portraits and David Hoffman’s examples of past local demonstrations against racism. There are also images by young photographers of the Black Lives Matter marches, Frederic Aranda’s photo of World Champion sprinter Dina Asher-Smith as free as a bird and Robert Timothy’s pictures of women in their equality tee-shirts. The current pandemic is covered by Tom Ferrie and Esther Sealy.

Throughout the month, the council’s Idea Stores and Local History Library and Archives are also hosting several talks and presentations. The council is also supporting a variety of virtual or socially distanced events organised by arts and voluntary groups in the borough. These include cinema, performances, cookery discussions and workshops.

Councillor Sabina Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Culture and Arts, said: “Despite the many challenges of Covid-19, we are delighted to be able to run an interesting programme this year, which includes supporting arts and cultural organisations to deliver events that residents of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy both online and offline.”

Key events of 2020 will be explored by Somali arts and culture organisation KAYD. There will be a poignant panel discussion on the impact of Covid-19 on the Somali community in the UK, with emphasis on London and Tower Hamlets. Artists will look at the experiences of vulnerable people, including those have been affected and those working on the frontline.

Arts and community centre Poplar Union is embarking on an ambitious and varied programme of online activity including a work-in-progress sharing of a new play exploring contemporary sexuality and gender roles from a Black perspective.

Genesis Cinema in Mile End will be showing ‘Through Her Eyes’ – four films that explore different aspects of the black female existence on screen – with introductions, question and answers, discussions, poetry and workshops.

Purple Moon Drama is creating films of performances that capture young people’s personal responses to Black History Month, using art to reference different feelings.