Category Archives: London history

From Pop Art to Community Arts

It has been an absolute joy to work with Peter Young on a film ‘From Pop Art to Community Arts: Hackney in the 1970s-80s’ commissioned for A British Museum Partnership exhibition ‘Warhol to Walker: American prints from pop art to today’.

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.

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!

I can’t thank enough our interviewees, the most wonderful Hackney activists, artists and researchers – Jess Baines, Neil Martinson, Alan May, Ingrid Pollard, Rene Rice, Red Saunders and Rebecca Wilson.

© Asya Gefter

Filmmaking and Hackney

Open Cinema festival

I am contributing  a video piece for the 24h Hackney film as well as the Hackney archive showreel to the Open Cinema film festival on Saturday November 21 at Open School East, 43 De Beauvoir Rd, N1 5SQ. Do come along if free and up for some quirky, serious, funny, contemporary and historical footage about Hackney.
Read more here
Update (December 2): You are welcome to watch some of the footage on my ‘Film’ page. More films will be available soon on the Open School East website!

East End markets

Bishopsgate Institute asked me to join Diane Burstein, London guide and author of ‘London Then and Now’, on today’s Sunday morning stroll around the East End markets – Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields, Brick Lane, Cheshire Street, Columbia Road. Mind-blowing how the area and the markets have changed since I moved to London 12 years ago. But then again, many people keep reminding me how different it was decades ago. London is always on the move..

Alexandra Palace commission

During June and July 2015 Alexandra Palace commissioned me to run a photography course ‘Give Your Future a Shot” for young people 16-25 as a part of their ‘War on the Home Front’ exhibition. This project, inspired by the use of Alexandra Palace as a refugee and internment camp during the First World War, was aimed at teaching participants how to use photography to give themselves a voice, uniting and intertwining this interesting period of history with the lives, experiences, and stories of young people today. Read more here.

© Asya Gefter / Alexandra Palace, 2015

© Asya Gefter / Alexandra Palace, 2015

London Radical Book Fair

The London Radical Bookfair 2015 in their second year running championed radical publishing – from its independent bookshops and publishers to its DIY-ers; the small press, self-publishers, and zinesters.

The LRB took over Bishopsgate Institute last year as the first event of its kind to bring together UK’s radical publishing and self-publishing communities. It was a joy and a privilege to be asked by Nik Górecki from Housmans Bookshop to document the fair once again, this time in a renovated Victorian warehouse at 47/49 Tanner Street near Tower Bridge.

 

Tales from the Ditch

Alan Gilbey, curator/guide, BAFTA Award-winning writer and East End guru:
‘Tales From The Ditch’ is an anthology of tales less told from London’s ‘little bit of rough’, as narrated by an eclectic selection of local authors, historians, storytellers and musicians, who were hidden in all the nooks and crannies of the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall. Each of these performances is a miniature, lasting five minutes, before bells are rung and you have to move on to find the next one. It’s a bit like speed dating, except you don’t have an awkward bit at the end where London history tries to get your phone number.

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Dan Jones has painted East End scenes for four decades; writer, youth worker and human rights campaigner.

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‘Oh Mr Wu..’ In an opium den Stefan Dickers sang of the scarcity of opium dens in the real Chinese Limehouse.

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In a secret room Keith Jones tells the classified story of Tommy Flowers, the Poplar telephone engineer who played a major part in cracking the Enigma Code and ending WW2.

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Chris Lilly and Tim Smith in the musical melodrama about ‘A Child Of The Jago.’

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Tim Smith in the musical melodrama about ‘A Child Of The Jago.’

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In a dark, damp cellar Debbie Scott tells the story of her great grandfather, who saved a great many men from drowning in the docks but was never honoured for his courage.

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In a dark, damp cellar Debbie Scott tells the story of her great grandfather, who saved a great many men from drowning in the docks but was never honoured for his courage.

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In the clinic of Anna Stokes you could receive sun lamp treatment and hear of Shoreditch Councils progressive health policies in the nineteen twenties. 'More power! More light!'

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© Asya Gefter

There was a pub and a bit of a sing-song. An opium den clouded with myth. A musical melodrama about ‘A Child Of The Jago.’ A clinic where you could feel the health giving powers of electricity and sunlight.

Who created the Ditch? Perhaps Shoreditch Council just sheered the tops off a lot of Victorian houses and dumped an Edwardian Town Hall on top?  With its winding corridors and sudden dead ends, secret staircases and non-sequiter windows, it is the perfect geophysical venue for a myth defying night of Eastside stories.

All together…

‘It’s the rich wot get the pleasure and the poor wot get the rich.
All of us are lying in the gutter, but some of us are dreaming of The Ditch.’

May Day Clerkenwell

Rowan Arts have asked me to photograph the annual May Day gathering on Camberwell Green for their Clerkenwell History project. The Muscovite in me had mixed feelings on the day when a display of Soviet-era-like ceremony took place on Red Square, for the first time since 1991. But Britain is Britain, and here are the many beautiful faces of Londoners.


© Asya Gefter

East End Backpassages

Although Alan Gilbey currently doesn’t run regular walks, he does create very special events; strolls through the side streets of East London to secret venues where a dozen of local writers and performers await to tell you tales less told.

These ‘Speed History’ events happen several times a year. This year’s March event took place at the 19th century Bishopsgate Library and i was invited to follow Alan and the gang.


© Asya Gefter