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The Peckham portraits of cultural black icons removed by Southwark council are being moved to a new home

Written by
Alexandra Sims

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The portraits of black actors lining Peckham Hill Street had become something of a local masterpiece. Taken by photographer Franklyn Rodgers, who initially took 30 portraits as part of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, the faces on display in the local artwork included Idris Elba, David Oyelowo, Marsha Thomason, Wunmi Mosaku, Fraser James, Adjoa Andoh, Don Warrington and Rudolph Walker. Therefore, there was a lot of commotion from locals when, in March, they were suddenly removed from their place near Peckham Library by Southwark Council. 

But now, there’s good news on the horizon after Southwark Council has confirmed that the portraits will be put back on display ‘as soon as possible’. The council told Time Out that the boards had been moved while building works on a new theatre school take place. In January, the council said they announced a £15,000 project to refresh and reposition the portraits and after bad weather in February damaged one of the pictures the boards were taken down early to keep them safe. After meeting with Franklyn Rodgers last week, the council have now said they will be coming back to Peckham’s streets. 

Cllr Johnson Situ said: ‘We have exciting plans for a new project to restore the boards and get them back on display and we will be making an announcement about these plans as soon as we can.’

‘In the meantime I can assure residents that the boards are being taken care of and assessed in safe storage and we have every intention of getting them back out on display as soon as possible. We appreciate the offers we have had from organisations wanting to display the boards and we are taking them into consideration as we work out the best way to get these beautiful portraits back up and inspiring a new generation of people to take advantage of the arts and culture opportunities that are coming to Peckham in the future.’

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