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World War One and the Royal Borough: Ancestry and Creative Writing Workshops

As part of the First World War Centenary, the fantastic Local Studies Team based in the borough’s libraries are hosting a number of workshops for those with a Kensington and Chelsea connection to explore the lives and actions of their relatives through the period, delve into the archives and reflect on the sacrifices made during the Great War through creative writing….

Workshop: Research your World World One ancestors and Curating WW1 memories   

Kensington BatallionMonday, 27 April: 2.00pm-4.00pm, Chelsea Library 

Tuesday, 12 May: 2.00pm-4.00pm, Kensington Central Library

Friendly staff will be on hand to help to help you use Ancestry to discover fascinating original documents relating to your family in World War One. You will then have the opportunity to create a permanent memorial to your relatives by adding the information you uncover to our Kensington and Chelsea World War One Project website and the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War. Do bring artefacts, photograph and any other items and we’ll be happy to help you upload these, create scans and produce digital copies for you to keep.

Also, do you also fancy yourself as a digital curator or do you simply have an eye for a catchy recruitment poster or striking photograph? Help us choose what should feature on the Kensington and Chelsea World War One website. All participants will have the chance to learn about the website, add material they’ve selected and put up personal responses.

Workshop: WW1 Reading and Creative Writing Group

Tuesday, 28 April: 2.00pm-4.00pm, Chelsea Library

Tuesday, 19 May: 2.00pm-4.00pm, Kensington Central Library

‘Waterlogged trenches, the bodies of the dead lying rotting, their faces hidden from the day that they will never wake to see – these are our surroundingPaul Destrube

Old CountryLetters, poems and other materials from our archives will be set alongside better-known World War One poems and texts in order explore their creative content and contextual influences. This will allow participants to reflect and share thoughts relating to World War One on both a local and wider scale, and to forge more personal connections to the material.

Participants will then work on their own World War One inspired creative writing. This will involve learning new techniques, working alongside a professional writer and devising pieces of writing which reflect upon and respond to the material in our archives.

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Heart of the Community: Portobello Road Arts Project launches

Continuing our growing trend of community reporting, here we have James Yabut with an exclusive report on the latest Portobello Road Arts Project.  Thanks James!  Keep them coming!

Artist, Peter Dunn

The latest installation of the Portobello Road Arts Project has been unveiled by artist Peter Dunn.“Heart of the Community” is made up of thirteen photomurals which explore the relationship between collective memory and cultural identity. This playful and imaginative take on the tradition of historical painting sees various figures and events bursting through the brickwork on Portobello Road’s north wall to remind visitors and passers-by of their contributions to life in the local area.

Opening the exhibition, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, Transport and Arts, Councillor Tim Coleridge, said the installation showed “what’s most important: that it’s people who make the community what it is.”

Peter Dunn walking the crowd through his work.

Keen not to celebrate only the great and the good, Dunn includes, amongst others, Notting Hill Carnival founders Claudia Jones and Rhaune Laslett-O’Brien, and pupils from Bevington Primary School alongside images of author George Orwell and photographers Roger Mayne and Charlie Phillips.

As Dunn explained: “I focused on the extraordinary acts of ordinary people who rose above the challenges life dealt them to create something of value for us all.”

Trading Streets
Trading Streets

The idea of the broken brickwork revealed itself early on during the research stage. Having learnt that Portobello Farm was once located behind the north wall, Dunn decided to uncover as much local history as possible. With the assistance of members of his Open Age Arts Group and the council’s local archives team, he soon found he had a wealth of material at his disposal.

After selecting and, where necessary, recolouring the images, trying to accurately match the colour of the real brickwork proved one of the trickiest parts of the project. Once Dunn was happy with the results the images were printed onto plasticized paper, mounted on aluminium frames, and then finally coated with an anti-graffiti film.

InMyShoes Walk
InMyShoes Walk

The result is a colourful tour through local history that takes viewers from the founding of Notting Hill through to the present day via the two great wars, the arrival of the Windrush, the opening of the street markets, and the breakthrough of punk and reggae. Dunn says: “I hope visitors enjoy seeing the history on display and are encouraged to find out more.”

The installation will remain on display till June 2015. You can read more and see images from the Portobello Road Arts Project on the RBKC website and Facebook page.

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