Dalston radical history walk: Thursday 23rd July

Once again from the crowded desk of our comrades at Past Tense:

Dalston radical history walk

Thursday 23rd July

meet 6.30pm in Gillett Square, Dalston, London, N16 8AZ

including:

  • housing struggles and gentrification
  • campaigners against police violence and oppression who got infiltrated by guess who
  • anti-fascist hairdresser
  • centres for community, for working class history, for refugees, for struggle …
  • culture
  • riot

and more……. Bring your own histories

Audio: Radical community arts centres in 1970s and 1980s Hackney – what legacy?

Below is a recording of some talks and discussion at Open School East in 2013:

It covers the origins of spaces like Centerprise (Dalston, 1971-2012), Chats Palace (Homerton, since 1973) and Cultural Partnerships (De Beauvoir Town, 1983-1999) and current projects geared at recording or re-presenting their histories.

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Open School East is based in a former library in De Beauvoir and describes itself as:

a unique space that brings together:

  • A free study programme for emerging artists;
  • A multifaceted programme of events and activities open to all.

Open School East was founded in 2013 in response to spiraling tuition fees and student debt. It was instituted as a space for artistic learning and production that is experimental, versatile and highly collaborative.

Central to Open School East’s approach is a commitment to foster cultural, intellectual and social exchanges between artists and the broader public. We do this by opening our study programme outwards, responding to our locality and providing an informal environment for the sharing of knowledge and skills across various communities – artistic, local and otherwise.

The OSE archive also includes recordings on of other past talks on topics including “Architecture of the De Beauvoir Tow Estate: A discussion between Wilson Briscoe and Owen Hatherley”

They have a whole bunch of interesting activites planned, including a talk by anthropologist Nazima Kadir on “The Dutch Squatting Movement and Self-Organised Groups” on Thursday 25 June 6.30-7.30pm.

Well worth keeping an eye on and supporting.

“Stand Up And Spit”: Tim Wells and Hackney ranting poetry

Attila The Stockbroker with Tim Wells

Attila The Stockbroker with Tim Wells

Long-time Hackney resident Tim Wells is heading up a project to document the ranting poetry movement of the 1980s. This was poetry done by working class people inspired by the DIY snottiness of punk.

His Stand Up And Spit blog is a great collection of documentation of ranting poetry, including 1980s fanzines and music press excerpts and some current interviews and reminiscences from former ranters (and some that never stopped).

A recent entry includes some excellent dub poetry by Hugh Boatswain on racist policing in Stoke Newington in the 1970s. Boatswain was part of a group of young people who met at Centerprise.

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Janine Booth

Also worth checking out is this piece by another Hackney resident, Janine Booth, on her time as a ranting poet, and why she gave it up to become a trade union activist. She has recently returned to poetry though, and has published an anthology called “Mostly Hating Tories”.

Stand Up And Spit events/gigs are happening in London too:

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Tim’s own anthology “Rougher Yet” includes a number of poems about growing up in Hackney and how the borough is changing…

A Punk history of Woodberry Down Estate – exhibition

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“They’ve Taken our Ghettos: A Punk History of the Woodberry Down Estate” 

Craving Coffee, The Mill Co Project, Gaunson House, Markfield Road, South Tottenham, London N15 4QQ

Exhibition Launch Party, Thurs, 2 Jul, 6-11pm, Free Entry
Food & drink available for purchase
Exhibition Runs 2-26 July

This exhibition brings together prints, illustrations, photographs and text, created by a diaspora of punks who lived as squatters on the Woodberry Down Estate in the Manor House area of London in the 80s and 90s. This show was conceived in response to the estate’s current redevelopment, which recognizes only consenting voices in its gentrification process.

This timely exhibition portrays aspects of an existence built on dissent, autonomy and communality, as an alternative to the neo-liberal values of ruthless individualism which held sway at that time. While the lifestyle was far from idyllic, at times dystopian, at its best it offered unmediated freedom and a real alternative to its participants.

Reflecting the principles of the community itself, no distinction is made between professional and amateur art and writing. And while some of the contributions are by known artists, writers and musicians, the rationale behind the exhibition is to present an expression of a life lived from those who lived it.

We will have an opening party on 2 July, with the bar also open for craft beer, cocktails, wine and food.

Facebook event

Mike Gray remembered at Chats Palace

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From Facebook:

Please join friends and ex-colleagues of Mike Gray at Chats Palace at this private view of ‘Mike Gray – in Black & White’

This collection of Mike’s photographs celebrates his great contribution to the community arts scene of Homerton and Clapton, most notably, his unique roles in establishing Hackney Marsh Fun Festival, Chats Palace and the ‘Save Sutton House’ campaign.

Mike died in January this year. There were some inspiring obituaries about him at What Is Chats Palace and The Guardian.

“A Crime is a Crime is a Crime” – on the crimes of Hackney Police, 1991

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This booklet has now been republished in full on this site.

“A Crime is a Crime is a Crime” is report by Hackney Community Defence Association, submitted to the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice which was set up following the release of the Birmingham Six from prison on March 14th 1991.

It is a very readable (though upsetting) account of the misdeeds of the police in Hackney, and how HCDA tried to address them. A number of short case studies and press cuttings are also included.

The corrupt arrogance of the police is particularly evident in some of the accounts of court proceedings as cops contradict themselves, or are too ill to attend court, or complain about fracturing their knuckles on handcuffed suspects whilst in the back of a van:

The officers, all from City Road Station, claimed the men had become violent in the back of a police van when they were forbidden to smoke. They alleged that Lavery ‘bounced up and down’ on a woman PC, fracturing her pelvis while Eaton ‘lashed out madly’ with his feet and fists, fracturing the knuckles of another officer.

Defence counsel told the court, however, that the WPC sustained her injury when the police van screeched to a halt, throwing Eaton and a PC Underhill on top of her.

Two bystanders told the jury that police had repeatedly beaten both men while they lay handcuffed and face down in the road. Doctors who examined them later found almost 40 injuries including head wounds apparently caused-by a truncheon. The men claimed they were assaulted at the scene of their arrest, in the van, in the custody suite at City Road station and later in the cells.

 

 

Mary Wollstonecraft in Hackney

Sunday’s radical history walk around Newington Green was an excellent afternoon out – and very well attended, with over 50 people.

Past Tense have a map of radical Newington Green available (scroll about three quarters down the page). They are also now on Facebook, so “like” their page if you are interested in future walks.

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The walk reminded me that I have failed to write anything about 18th Century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft on this site.

Wollstonecraft is best known for her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), which is often claimed to be the first major feminist work in the English language. She has a couple of significant connections to Hackney:

Mary’s family briefly moved to Hoxton in 1774, when she would have been about 15 years old.

In 1784 she opened a boarding school for girls in Newington Green along with her sister Eliza and friend Fanny Blood. She also attended the Green’s radical Unitarian Church (which is still there) and befriended its minister Dr Richard Price. The freethinking community of Newington Green at that time meant that Mary was also able to debate with people like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Joseph Priestley.

Newington Green was also where Mary started her career as a writer.

The Mary on the Green Campaign is fundraising for a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft to be built and placed in Newington Green.

It was argued persuasively on the walk that Wollstonecraft was written out of feminist history in the 19th Century because of her supposed immoral behaviour, including having children out of wedlock, having affairs etc. London is generally lacking in statues of women, too.

In the meantime there is a less traditional memorial to her on the outside wall of the Unitarian chapel by local artist Stewy:

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