Black Culture Collective launches in Thamesmead

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To mark Black History Month Peabody is supporting local residents to launch the first Black Culture Collective, a resident group that will embark on an ongoing programme of events to celebrate the invaluable contribution of Thamesmead’s Black culture and heritage.

Thamesmead’s black community has played a critical role in shaping the cultural, social and economic life of the town throughout its 50 year history.

The Black Culture Collective is open to all and will meet monthly to share the stories, knowledge, and experiences of black people within the community and make decisions on how to celebrate Thamesmead’s black heritage. The first meeting, on 15 October at 5pm, will focus on getting to know each other and discussing the future direction of the group. The group will also be joined by local resident and author, Tatiana Ellis, who will talk about her book ‘Melodies of a Ghetto Princess’.

Peabody will work with the Collective to support them each year to ensure Black culture and history is fully represented within Thamesmead's wider cultural programme.

Abena Oppong-Asare, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead said: "The launch of the Black Culture Collective by local residents and supported by Peabody is a fantastic initiative. Thamesmead has a thriving cultural history and is built on the contributions of all who live here.

“It is important the historical and modern experiences of Black people are brought to light and that everyone has the opportunity to learn about Black history. We need to engage with Black history all year round to truly recognise the contributions of Black people to UK society and Peabody's ongoing commitment to a resident-led programme of events is a fantastic step in engaging the entire community with Black histories."

During Black History month, Artistic Duo – Scully and Scully will work with Helena Foster, a local  painter of Nigerian and English descent will produce a new body of work in situ during a one-month residency at the Lakeside Centre, to coincide with Black History month. Helena’s work features actors from Nigerian films, many of which live in Thamesmead. Scully and Scully will also host screenings of Nigerian film trailers, also known as Nollywood, handpicked by Helena and screened as part of the Thamesmead Market on 11 October 2020.

Helena said: “In my view, Nigerian movies reflect the reality of its society. One can relate to the concepts being portrayed on screen, the everyday concerns highlighted, the moral subjects, and aspirations expressed.

“Naturally, watching these films became a source of inspiration to me as they reflected some of the themes I was starting to explore in my paintings. Essentially, it became a portal into my home away from home - a way to connect and be grounded in the rich cultures around the part of the world where I grew up, perhaps for fear of losing a part of my identity to my new found home."

This month will also see the launch of the Taste of Thamesmead cookbook, a collection of recipes that celebrates the rich heritage of Thamesmead.

The Black Culture Collective is appealing for residents who are interested in learning more about the Black experience and shaping the town’s future cultural programmes to join the group. To join the Black Culture Collective and attend the first meeting, please email Lisa Drew, Cultural Programme Manager, at [email protected] 

To see Helena’s exhibition of paintings, please join us at the Thamesmead Market, from 12pm to 4pm