One of the ideas I put forward was a touring project, creating a local history exhibition in one week. Underpinning the week’s work with artists would be workshops, meetings and mentoring – so that while publicly the project would end in a one day exhibition, underneath it even more artists would be introduced to the skills needed. Quick thinking – swift marketing – speedy planning. All essential when the opportunity to use an empty shop may come around quickly and be gone in a week, but not skills that every artist can understand.
So a week later, with support from the Meanwhile Project, I’m running a live project in Brixton called ‘Tell me about Oswald Denniston’.
Oswald Denniston was a passenger on the Empire Windrush when it docked at London in 1948, and in the early 1960s became the first African-Caribbean trader in the Granville Arcade, now known as Brixton Village. He passed away in 2000, after becoming a pillar of the local community during a life which took in signwriting, market trading, cycling (he was the first black cyclist in the Herne Hill Cycling Club) and reciting epic verse.
We’ve taken a small unit in Granville Arcade (nowadays known as Brixton Village), set up tables and chairs, and we’re ready to talk about Oswald. It’s a battered, dirty unit among the busy food stalls and near the ‘Brixton Party Shop’. It used to be Taj Textiles; Oswald’s stall in Granville sold fabric. I like that coincidence.
Come and join the conversation at Unit 73, Brixton Village on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday and see the finished exhibition, featuring work by artists including Alice Angus and The Caravan Gallery’s Jan Williams, on Saturday 6th February.