Black History Month is almost over, but there are loads of great events celebrating Black culture all year round. Head to Blacktress season at the Tristan Bates Theatre for shows written and performed by Black women, check out photography exhibition 'Home', which explores the concepts of home and family, see Stormzy talk #Merky Books at the Barbican Centre and more.
Family comes first at this exhibition curated by London-based photographer Ronan Mckenzie. Works by Joy Gregory, Liz Johnson Artur and Rhea Dillon explore themes of home and family. There will also be events alongside the exhibition, including supper clubs from vegan Jamaican pop-up OOM and Caribbean fusion food from Pops Kitchen, as well as a self-portrait workshop, an introduction to tarot and life-drawing hosted by Our Naked Truths. As the famous saying goes: home is where the nudes are.
Got a lot of love for the former First Lady? We feel you. Pay tribute to Michelle Obama at this event celebrating the launch of her memoir, ‘Becoming’. There’ll be a line-up of awesome women here, including Broadly editor and author of the ‘Forgotten Women’ series, Zing Tsjeng, ‘How to Own the Room’ author Viv Groskop and poet, writer and filmmaker Victoria Adukwei Bulley. Speakers will recite their own love letter to the former Flotus and if you fancy waxing lyrical, you can get involved too. Bring along your letter and guests will be picked at random to read them out, so luckily there’s no time to get nervous.
Get a snapshot of the past 100 years of UK history from a Black and Asian perspective at the Now Gallery’s annual ‘Human Stories’ show. With a mix of archive photos and specially commissioned new works, this exhibition aims to celebrate multiculturalism while giving insight into the lives of these communities, including their migration to the UK, working lives, religion and experiences of racism. The show is coming to an end soon, so catch it while you can.
Back in July it was announced that Londoner, MC and all-round ledge Stormzy was launching his own publishing imprint with Penguin Random House. The aim of #Merky Books is to open up publishing to a new generation of writers. The first commissions? Stormzy’s autobiography ‘Rise Up’, and ‘Taking Up Space’ a book about the need to make higher education more inclusive. Its co-author Chelsea Kwakye will be joining novelist Malorie Blackman, hip hop artist and writer Akala and Stormzy himself at this panel asking: whose stories are being heard?
‘Bitchcraft’, a play exploring what it means to be a young, Black and a witch, ‘Celibate’, a comedy following a sex-loving woman who falls for a straight-edged guy, and ‘Can I Touch Your Hair?’, a show exploring cultural appropriation and fetishisation, are just a few highlights from Blacktress Season at the Tristan Bates Theatre. Running throughout autumn, it’s putting productions that are written, produced and performed by Black British women centre stage. The showcase of works-in-progress provides a platform for artists to try out innovative stories they’re working on, and is a chance for theatre-goers to catch the next big thing for budget prices.
Think London Film Festival is our city’s only big movie event? Wrong. The eighth annual Film Africa kicks off in London next month, celebrating the best movies from across the continent and diaspora. One of the highlights? ‘Rafiki.’ It’s the work of Kenyan film director, producer and author Wanuri Kahiu, who won five African Movie Academy Awards for her last film ‘From a Whisper’ in 2009. Her new movie is sure to be just as powerful: it’s a love story about two Kenyan women, Kena and Ziki, who risk their safety to be together in a country where same-sex relationships aren’t recognised by the state. It’s a rallying call against the country’s homophobic laws, and a must-watch.
The organisers of Lafiya Lounge say that people from African and Caribbean backgrounds are more likely to suffer from certain mental and physical illnesses, but are less likely to seek help during the most treatable stages. If you can relate to that, you might want to head down to the Africa Centre on November 11. Lafiya Lounge uses games and debate to tackle cultural perceptions about illnesses, as well as providing information about what treatment is available. The event’s open to people from all backgrounds but is aimed at African and Caribbean people aged 18 to 30. It’s easy to feel isolated, helpless and like you’re to blame when you’re not well, so hopefully this event can help change that.
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