I am Harold Offeh and with Picture This, I am co-curating "Down at the Bamboo Club". The project consists of programme of activity exploring aspects of Bristol's social and political histories using devices such as irony, oration and filmic re-creation. The project will use re-enactments to enable participants to explore subjects such as community relations, the legacy of slave trading on the city's economy and communities, histories of division and solidarity, and the heritage of their own roles in the city today.
My involvement stems from an invitation from Picture This Director Joesphine Lanyon to help develop and curate a series of projects that negotiated aspects of Bristol's history, particularly in relation to the Abolition 200 commemorations taking place in Bristol and cities like London and Liverpool. Picture This and I identified a number of project partners that would form a base for the invited artists research and production.
Up until June 2009 the invited artists Barby Asante, Mark Wilsher and Mandy McIntosh will developed separate projects engaging participants in the history and legacy of 3 sites. This blog will attempt to map out and document some the artists research and the development of the project leading up to group exhibition to be staged in bristol in the Summer 2009. I hope the blog with also act as a forum for comment, discussion and debate. I'll be making regular contributions to contextualize the project and hopefully the page will archive the overall projects development
Barby Asante, Mark Wilsher and Mandy McIntosh are working with:
Bristol’s Georgian House is an 18th century townhouse built for John Pinney, a West India merchant who retired to Bristol from the plantations. Due to conservation issues, it is difficult for the institution to increase its but the curator is keen for artists to explore the meanings present within the building and create greater understandings around its history.
The New Room – John Wesley's Chapel, is the oldest Methodist Chapel in the world with a unique history in relation to the bicentenary of the parliamentary Abolition, it was here Wesley wrote his paper Thoughts Upon Slavery in 1774. The Chapel is keen for its history to be re-interpreted and made relevant to contemporary debates around human trafficking.
The Bamboo Club – a legendary venue in St Pauls – encouraged social interaction between communities through music and dance at a time when there was still a colour bar preventing employment of black people drivers or conductors on Bristol buses. The venue held powerful resonance for many Bristolians now aged 55 and over, and its heritage exists largely through reminiscences, the ongoing friendships it fostered and the positive affirmation of community relations it represented. The Bamboo Club burnt down in 1977.