Tag Archives: exhibitions

Learning and working together

As always, it’s been a busy few months for Westminster Libraries’ Bengali Service! Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to:

Mental Health Facilitators / Ayurvedic Indian Head Massage training

Community Celebration Day at Church Street Library, December 2016Community Celebration Day at Church Street Library, December 2016

This is a joint project in Church Street, in partnership with the Mosaic Community Trust, to train local residents – particularly those with English as a second language – to become mental health facilitators and massage therapists through a qualified training programme. In turn they are able to act as champions for their respective communities.

As part of the programme a ‘Community Celebration Day’ was held in December at Church Street Library – many people, including GPs and practice managers from the local health centres, attended to discuss patient participation and how local people can play an active role in terms of their care needs.

The project has 15 students and they will be graduating as massage therapists this month! The training will equip the participants with relevant skills to work as therapists or freelance in a salon. Some students demonstrated their newly acquired skills at the event in December and at Church Street’s New Year’s New You event in January.

A World In A Suitcase (AWIASC)

A World in a Suitcase is a storytelling project funded by the Wellcome Trust & WAES in collaboration with an author and a former BBC producer. Its aim was to foster closer relations, understanding and tolerance between communities through sharing their ‘World’.”

Myrna Shoa and Timuchin Dindjer have run six workshops with our English Speaking Clubs members at Church Street Library, using multimedia arts and story-telling prop materials.

Participants have created a visual record of their stories through collages, drawings, words and photos. All these culminated into an exhibition at WAES which was opened by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Steve Summers.

A World in a Suitcase (AWIASC) exhibition, 2017

A World in a Suitcase (AWIASC) exhibition, 2017 – click to view the rest of the images

Employment and Training Project at Queen’s Park Library

A great partnership has been forged with Queen’s Park Community Council and Paddington Development Trust’s (PDT) employment programme to introduce a new service at Queen’s Park Library.

The PDT Employment Adviser, Shah Alam, is based in Queen’s Park Library every Tuesday (10.30am-3.30pm). Shah works with Westminster residents, long term unemployed and job seekers, men and women over the age of 19, on a one to one basis. He sees them for a series of Information, Advice and Guidance sessions, a minimum of six and at a pace set by the client. Sessions can cover motivation and confidence, skills and referrals to training, CV creation, job search and applications, interview techniques and practical support.

SShah at Queen's Park Library, giving employment advice and supporthah is enjoying meeting with different community members, people with different needs and expectations from a job and who are balancing different responsibilities of family and childcare and other commitments. Contact Queen’s Park Library to find out more.

Parenting Seminars at Queen’s Park Library

A series of parenting seminars were organised and delivered at Queen’s Park Library, in partnership with Westminster Early Help Team & Parenting and Fast Co-ordinator, Madhu Chauhan.

Parenting seminars at Queen's Park LibraryFifteen local people have attended the seminars over three weeks learning about raising resilient happy children, instilling positive behaviours at home so they become happy, well-rounded and able to achieve their full potential.

Feedback ranged from great to excellent after all these workshops!

International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library

Another successful event was held at Pimlico Library in partnership with Westminster Bangladeshi Association (WBA) on 16 February to commemorate International Mother Language Day – a day to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The event attracted over a hundred people into the library. We saw children making collages with signs and symbols of their native countries, with images of healthy food and key healthy lifestyle messages in different languages. Children also took part in a colouring completion and poetry performance as well as speeches about the importance of cultural diversity in language and why it is important to learn English in this multicultural city of Westminster.

International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library

This event was also supported by various organisations such as My Time Active, Westminster Memory Service, Health Information Co-ordinator and Health Trainers.

A Volunteer Success Story

Magdalena works at Queen’s Park Library helping out with Basic Computer Sessions and the English Speaking Club. She also helps colleagues with shelving.

Recently, she has acquired a job as she has been growing in confidence through her volunteering with the Bengali Service in Westminster Libraries. Congratulations Magdalena!

International Women’s Day

The Bengali Service also marked International Women’s Day with an event at Church Street Library, with some high achieving local female guest speakers to inspire the local women of Westminster as well as service providers ranging from  the education, training, employment, health and wellbeing sectors.

Watch this space for more news!

[Mahbuba]

Queen’s Park Celebration

Henna painting at Queen's Park Library's Community Cultural Celebration, February 2017Queen’s Park is an area known for its diversity, and on Thursday 9 February we held a Community Cultural Celebration in the library which recognised the wide mix of people who live in the area.

The event – part of the Made in Libraries festival – began with face-painting and badge-making for the kids and continued with henna, Indian head massage and jewellery-making.

Chinese calligraphy master Mr Zhu particularly impressed the crowd with his beautiful translations of people’s names, and the evening was rounded off with some lively African dancing provided by local health and well-being group Healthier Life 4 You.

Mr Zhu's calligraphy at Queen's Park Library's Community Cultural Celebration, February 2017  Mr Zhu's calligraphy at Queen's Park Library's Community Cultural Celebration, February 2017

North African, Caribbean and Bangladeshi food was on offer, courtesy of local businesses Timgad and Guava Nights, plus the libraries’ ESOL conversation class. Not surprisingly this proved very popular! The library was absolutely packed with a mix of old and young, familiar faces and curious newcomers all keen to sample the activities. To say the atmosphere was lively would be something of an understatement, although fortunately the Learning Centre was available for those who wanted an escape from it all.

Picture from ‘Women of Colour - an Exhibition of Samplism’ by Toby Laurent Belson. Queen's Park Library 2017

Complementing the event’s theme was ‘Women of Colour – an Exhibition of Samplism’ by the local artist Toby Laurent Belson, which runs until 7 March. Toby’s vivid collage pieces, which depict women of the African diaspora, are stunning and make a visit to Queen’s Park Library even more worthwhile.

[Lucy]

Through the eyes of children

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Paddington Children’s Library is currently hosting the annual summer art exhibition of Lyndons Arts Trust. The exhibition showcases pieces by the Trusts’ artists-in-residence, volunteers, children of Malorees Junior School, and young people involved in the International Exchange Programme, all looking at the following key themes:
  • Identity
  • Conservation
  • The history of the city through the eyes of its children: Trade and immigration
The event was also used to launch the new fundraising appeal aimed at developing a computer arts programme that will help children and young people learn graphic design as well as coding for animation and websites.
You can view the exhibition at Paddington Library until Friday 1 July.
[Laurence]

Bardolatry in the Archives

Housed under the umbrella of Shakespeare 400 is a panoply of exhibitions, readings, performances, talks, tours and films marking this year’s quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616. Among the stand-outs are the offerings from the British Library, the National Archives/King’s College London,  , and the Corporation of London.

A sift through the collections at Westminster City Archives finds some earlier tributes to the Bard.

David Garrick as Richard II. Image property of Westminster City Archives

David Garrick as Richard II. Image property of Westminster City Archives

The Annual Register and Gentleman’s Magazine (available to view at the Archives Centre) of 1769 provide a commentary on the Shakespeare Jubilee of that year and on its enthusiastic promoter, the great Shakespearean actor David Garrick. Rebuilding their town hall, the Corporation of Stratford-upon-Avon sought the help of Garrick to fund the raising of a statue of the poet to beautify the new civic building. Garrick, a Shakespeare devotee (and of whom it’s been said that the Bard was “the only man he honestly believed to be more talented than himself”) answered the Corporation’s petition – and went much further in devising a grand ‘Jubilee’ to commemorate (a few years late) the bi-centenary of his hero’s birth in 1564.

“Sketch of Stratford Jubilee Booth or Amphitheatre”, Gentleman’s Magazine, 1769 p344. Image property of Westminster city Archives

“Sketch of Stratford Jubilee Booth or Amphitheatre”, Gentleman’s Magazine, 1769 p344. Image property of Westminster city Archives

The Jubilee took place 6-9 September 1769, and saw the construction of a rotunda to house festivities, the dedication of the new town hall, and the unveiling of the statue – together with a portrait of Garrick by Thomas Gainsborough as a companion piece. The three days events included 30 canons sounding from the banks of the Avon, serial bell-ringing, fireworks, musical performances directed by Thomas Arne (a hundred musicians from Garrick’s Drury Lane Theatre had been coached-in), a pageant of Shakespearean characters in costume, a horse race, a banquet and masked ball. No play was produced. Torrential rain on the last two days compelled the cancellation of most of the planned outdoor events, not least the colourful pageant. The Jubilee and Garrick were roundly mocked in the press.  And whilst the venture was well-attended by the London beau-monde and theatre world it saw Garrick £2000 out of pocket. But he was to more than re-coup his losses by successfully re-staging a version of the pageant under the shelter of the Drury Lane Theatre.

Shakespeare commemorations, Primrose Hill, 1864. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Shakespeare commemorations, Primrose Hill, 1864. Image property of Westminster City Archives

A newspaper cutting in our Ashbridge Collection of St Marylebone local history depicts a celebration held on Primrose Hill in 1864, part of the wider tercentenary (of birth) commemorations taking place in Stratford, London and other British towns. The events were organised by sundry bodies, including the National Shakespeare Committee and the Working Men’s Shakespeare Committee – the latter championing him as the people’s playwright and satirist of kings and courts. In London, concerts and readings were held in the Royal Agricultural Hall, St James’s Hall and the Crystal Palace. Several of the plays were performed at the Haymarket, Drury Lane and Sadler’s Wells theatres. The largest gathering was for a tree planting (an oak sapling donated by Queen Victoria), speeches and much cheering on Primrose Hill. The crowd was estimated at 15-20 thousand (by the press) and 70-100 thousand (by the Working Men’s Shakespeare Committee).

The planting was performed “in the name of the workmen of England” by the highly regarded Shakespearean actor Samuel Phelps – who had revived the Sadler’s Wells theatre with productions which were faithful to the original texts. Following the ceremonies a splinter group of several thousand massed for a rally in support of another people’s hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had just left Britain, it was believed, under government duress…

Shakespeare Tercentenary at Drury Lane, programme cover, 1916. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Shakespeare Tercentenary at Drury Lane, programme cover, 1916. Image property of Westminster City Archives

The tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death was marked at Drury Lane on 2 May 1916 by

“A tribute to the genius of William Shakespeare …. humbly offered by the players and their fellow-workers in the kindred arts of music & painting”.

The eulogy in the programme’s preface acknowledged the shadow cast by the Great War:

“In honour of Shakespeare this performance has been arranged by actors, painters and musicians who have united in paying such tribute as lies in their power to the Master-Intellect of the ages. To all artists the memory of the Great Englishman is as dear as to those who recall with gratitude his patriotic love of his native land … for all his countrymen alike the deathless art of Shakespeare – especially at a time like this, so unpropitious to the higher levels of imaginative creation – is at once a vindication and a pledge that Art itself is immortal”.

The evening included a performance of Julius Caesar, a programme of music arranged by Sir Hubert Parry, and a Shakespeare pageant.

Shakespeare Birthday Festival at the Old Vic, programme cover, 1938. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Shakespeare Birthday Festival at the Old Vic, programme cover, 1938. Image property of Westminster City Archives

A ‘Shakespeare Birthday Festival’ held on 25 April 1938 at the Old Vic (People’s Opera and Playhouse) presented scenes from a dozen of the plays and George Bernard Shaw’s one-act comedy The Dark Lady of the Sonnets.  Among the Festival’s better remembered actors performing were Marius Goring, Jessica Tandy, Michael Redgrave, Donald Wolfit,  Sybil Thorndike, William Devlin and Tyrone Guthrie.

The Archives Centre, keen to join bardolators past and present, is currently displaying a selection of portraits and likenesses, views of Tudor and Jacobean Bankside and its theatres, London memorials to Shakespeare, theatre programmes and playbills of historic West End productions, and a gallery of noted Shakespearean players.

[Rory]

Anarchy in the UK – Punk at Forty

Play Guitar with The ClashDo you remember 1976? 

40 years ago, punk stunned the nation with its explosion from nowhere, and in this its anniversary year we’ll be celebrating this iconic movement with events and exhibitions. Come in and help us celebrate and acknowledge the huge legacy that punk has left in the music history books.

History generously allocated 4 July 1976, with a number of memorable events.  100 hostages were rescued from a Ugandan airport where they were being held by pro-Palestinian hijackers; the United States celebrated 200 years of independence; and, in a dimly-lit back room of the Black Swan pub in Sheffield, The Clash gave their live debut to an audience of 50. Despite the grungy venue and the feeble crowd, it was, as far as debut gigs go, a far greater opportunity for exposure than most bands are given – they were supporting none less than the Sex Pistols, who, having nine months’ performance experience under their belts, were well-known for their onstage antics (and, incidentally, practically half way through their stint as a band already).

The Clash performing in Oslo in 1980. Left to right: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, and Paul Simonon

As a quirk of history would have it, it was on the same night that, 170 miles further south, another group whose name rings loud in the hall of fame were giving another sort of debut. Riding on the success of an eponymous LP recorded three months previously, The Ramones gave their UK debut show at London’s Roundhouse, and were afforded a rather more spectacular crowd of 2,000 fans for their efforts – their largest so far. Known for their short and sweet three-chord wonders (by July 1976, the longest song in their repertoire was a fleeting two-and-a-half minutes), The Ramones had stirred up in the youth of London a taste for the loud, raucous and unconventional – a hunger soon to be intensified by the explosion of a home-grown punk scene. It was The Ramones, who, with their huge crowds, record contract, and overseas tours, gave inspiration to such bands as the Sex Pistols and The Clash – so, the following night, on day two of The Ramones’ UK tour, the two English bands took a break from performing to pay tribute to their American heroes.

Despite Johnny Rotten, the Sex Pistols’ infamous frontman, going on to liken The Ramones to Status Quo – as offensive a remark as one can make to a punk rocker – reports suggest that even he, too, was enamoured enough to wait for The Ramones to finish their show and meet them at the stage door. One can only imagine what this meeting of these three legendary bands, who have each gone on to write the history books of punk rock, would have looked like. The Ramones may have been loud and unconventional, but compared to the Pistols, known for their spiked green hair and homemade “I hate Pink Floyd” t-shirts, they must have appeared relatively tame. Rob Lloyd, vocalist of The Prefects, and witness to the occasion, sums it up succinctly: “I think The Ramones were a bit frightened of them.”

The Ramones, Toronto 1976

4 July 1976 had set the ball rolling for the unstoppable rise of punk rock in the UK. Literally hundreds of bands followed in the footsteps of the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Some are remembered well today: Buzzcocks (formed in 1976), The Damned (1976), Siouxsie and the Banshees (1976), The Skids (1977) and Stiff Little Fingers (1977) are familiar names to popular music fans. Others, with less familiar but no less amusing names, are sadly forgotten: the likes of Lemon Kittens, Hammersmith Gorillas and Desperate Bicycles and a whole host of other provocatively-named bands, live on only in punk history books. It wasn’t only the names of bands which had fundamentally changed, however. A new standard had been set for musical composition, where catchy melodies were no longer criteria for success (ABBA, the number-one chart-toppers in 1976, were no doubt looked upon with contempt). Bands no longer aspired to imitate The Beatles (whose breakup had only occurred six years previously) – punk rockers valued speed over caution, volume over subtlety and profanity over poetry. Producer Marco Pirroni recalls, “After that [the birth of punk], everybody speeded up…”

Despite the huge appeal of punk to the disaffected youth of the 1970s, who could probably think of nothing worse than listening to 1976’s top-selling album (Greatest Hits by ABBA), the closest punk ever got to chart-topping status was in the form of the more radio-friendly Boomtown Rats, whose Rat Trap was a number 1 single in 1978. (Punk purists would no doubt question the validity of describing Bob Geldof’s family-friendly band as “punk”.)

The Sex Pistols. In Paradiso

It appeared that punk would remain strictly underground, confined to the bars of London and Sheffield where no respectable person would ever tread – that is, until 1 December 1976, when punk was inadvertently rocketed into the mainstream view. Faced with a last-minute cancellation by Queen, producers of ITV’s Today show sought a replacement band for host Bill Grundy to interview on the popular 6.00pm show,  and somehow landed upon the Sex Pistols, presumably with the hope of discussing their £40,000 record deal with EMI, finalised some two months previously. Whatever the motivation for this surprising choice of band to replace Queen (one suspects that the Pistols were not first choice), the show went ahead, with disastrous consequences. Grundy, who was no novice at interviewing, made a valiant attempt to stay on topic (“I am told that the group have received forty thousand pounds from a record company. Doesn’t that seem to be slightly opposed to their anti-materialistic view of life?”), but received no thanks for his efforts: “We’ve f***ing spent it,” was the reply.

National scandal ensued. Grundy was sacked from Today and relegated to a Sunday morning book-review show, while the ever-restrained Daily Mirror added fuel to the fire by running the front-page headline, ‘The Filth And The Fury!’ Phone lines to the show’s producers were jammed with angry complaints from viewers who perceived their Wednesday evening supper to have been violated, and the Guardian reported that one man ‘had been so outraged that he had kicked in the screen of his new £380 television set‘ (ironically, a favourite activity of punk bands in hotel rooms). Punk had finally penetrated popular culture, albeit widely condemned. An unrepentant Sex Pistols attempted to use the buzz generated by their appearance to launch a nationwide tour, adopting the philosophy ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ – but this unfortunately appeared to be untrue. In Johnny Rotten’s words, “We tried to play around the country… We were banned from just about everywhere.”

Daily Mirror, 2 December 1976

Whether for good or ill, punk could no longer be hidden from plain sight. The punks had revolutionised music and fashion, and now culture, the final frontier, seemed within their grasp. But while some may have had some support from cultural icons of the day (Vivienne Westwood, who was at the time living with the Sex Pistols’ manager, Malcolm McLaren, was quoted as saying “It is quite normal [to swear in front of children] at the time of the scandal), it would appear that Britain of 1976 was not quite ready for punk. The Sex Pistols’ one and only album was released the next year, but only after EMI had dropped the band, major record shops had refused to sell it, and record charts had refused to list it, preferring to show a blank space in place of its provocative title. Anarchy in the UK simply wasn’t going as planned.

The bands which had the most commercial success were those who were prepared to tone it down somewhat. The Jam, The Stranglers, and the aforementioned Boomtown Rats seemed more successful at bridging the divide between mainstream culture and the punk underground. Their music – more melodic and reflective – was considered a safer option by record sellers and parents alike, and these bands found great success riding on the wave of interest in punk, bearing its name but in reality resembling very little of the ‘real’ punk bands like The Clash and the Ramones. Meanwhile, band after band either broke up (The Damned in 1978, Buzzcocks in 1981, The Skids in 1982) or re-invented themselves – Johnny Rotten famously forming the much tamer group, Public Image Limited, in 1978.

The punk revolution appeared to be over as suddenly as it began, but its influence was only just beginning. Seemingly hundreds of sub-genres appeared, as musicians fused punk with even the most unlikely genres. Some produced well-known acts: New York Dolls exemplified glam punk, and ‘horror punk’ had some success in the Misfits. A massive punk revival took place in 1990s California with bands such as Green Day and The Offspring. Although these bands sang about skateboarding and girlfriends instead of anarchy and revolution, their roots are discernible, and their debt to the 1970s punk scene shown in the typical three-chord riff which inevitably starts every song. Punk in its purest form may have been short-lived, but its explosive impact was sure to create waves in all styles of music. Surely, another punk revival is not out of the question.

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg, by Marky Ramone Punk Rock: an oral history, by John Robb The Official Punk Rock Book of Lists, bby Amy Wallace and Handsome Dick Manitoba

40 years ago, punk stunned the nation with its explosion from nowhere, and in this anniversary year Punk.London seeks to remember the influence of this iconic movement. Events are planned throughout the year across the capital, where punk music and culture can be either relived or experienced for the first time.

Westminster Music Library is pleased to support this series of events, and visitors to the Library can enjoy our impressive display of punk books and scores. Experience punk first-hand with John Robb’s Punk Rock: An Oral History or Marky Ramone’s Punk Rock Blitzkrieg, play along with The Clash with our guitar albums, or be amazed by the trivia contained in The Official Punk Rock Book of Lists. We also have a large number of Punk.London brochures available to keep, where you can find a full list of the punk events planned across London for this year. Do pop in to help us celebrate and acknowledge the huge legacy that punk has left in the music history books.

Punk at Forty exhibition, Westminster Music Library 2016

[Jon]

Happy National Libraries Day!

National Libraries Day 2014Today, 6 February is National Libraries Day – we’d love to see you at the library today!

If you haven’t been in for a while, pick your nearest one and come and find out what we have to offer.

We’re holding an online competition to celebrate both National Libraries Day and the fact that this week has been National Storytelling Week:

Can you tell a story in fewer than 140 characters?
If you’d like to try, post your story on Twitter before midday on Monday, making sure you include the hashtag #NLD132.
There are prizes for the most retweeted story and we’ll pick our favourite reading- or library-related story too.
Find out more, and join in the judging by retweeting your favourite story at #NLD132.

This Saturday in Westminster Libraries you can find:

In addition to these special events we have literally hundreds of other events going on every day of the week across our network of libraries. Keep an eye on the Forthcoming events page for one-off events and at the regular events section of your own library’s events page for regular activities.

Or just come in and have a look at our wide range of books for both adults and children, use the library computers, ask a question, borrow a DVD or CD, find out about local history at the Archives Centre, use our amazing special collections or use the study space we offer.

If you can’t get to the library today, have a look at our brilliant online resources – you can download e-books, e-magazines and e-audiobooks for free, and use the Guardian newspaper archives, Naxos Music Library and KOMPASS business directory (and much MUCH more) from home too.

And if you can’t get to the library at all because you are disabled or caring for someone at home, don’t forget that we have a Home Library Service for you.

There are loads of reasons to love libraries this National Libraries Day. Come and find out why!

[Ali]

Les Petits Livres (Little Books)

Church Street Library has a successful twinning relationship with a French library, Bibliotheque Place des Fetes in Paris [read more]. The library is currently displaying artwork from the Paris children’s Winter Workshop, which celebrates and is inspired by the best known British children’s illustrators.

The library has two extraordinarily popular and free of charge children’s French Clubs, running every other week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively. The children regularly exchange their artwork and interact with the children of our twinning library in Paris. One member, Oskar, has kindly agreed to display some of the best bits of the Paris children’s work here:

Do get in touch with Church Street Library if you are interested in finding out more about the French Clubs or the twinning project, and don’t miss the exhibition, which will be on display until the middle of January 2016.

[Debora]