This Week in London – Beryl Gilroy at the British Library; Milligan statue acquired; and, ‘Play in the Pandemic’…

Beryl Gilroy © The Estate of Beryl Gilroy

The archive of writer, teacher and ethno-psychotherapist Beryl Gilroy has been acquired by the British Library. Highlights from the archive, which includes working drafts for published and unpublished novels, letters with publishers and literary agents and ‘born-digital’ material, is at the centre of the free Celebrating Beryl Gilroy display which opened in the Treasures Gallery earlier this month. Gilroy, who was born in Guyana (then British Guiana) and who immigrated to Britain in 1952, became the first black head teacher in London in 1969 and wrote a number of acclaimed children’s books to better reflect the lives of her pupils. Her works – which explore the lives of families, particularly of women and children, the impact of 20th century migration and societal change that came as a result – also included number of novels, a collection of poems, non-fiction writing and a 1976 memoir, Black Teacher. The free display can be seen until 26th June. For more, see www.bl.uk.

A controversial bronze statue of merchant and slave trader Robert Milligan which formerly stood on West India Quay outside the Museum of London Docklands is joining the museum’s collection. The statue was removed in June, 2020, following a petition signed by over 4,000 people called for it to be removed from public view. Its acquisition by the museum follows a public consultation conducted in partnership with the Tower Hamlets Council and landowners Canal & River Trust, which concluded that the statue should be housed in a museum where it can be fully contextualised. “Over the last 15 years, the museum has been working with academics, community leaders and activists to tell the story of London’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, and give voice to its legacy,” said a museum spokesman. “The West India Docks, championed by Milligan using wealth from the slave trade, are a visible reminder of how this history has shaped our city. It is right and important that we acknowledge this in the statue’s story. We will now take time to consult with the local community to decide how best to take this forward as part of our collection.” The statue will be held in storage whilst the museum consults further with local communities about how best to present it.

TY® Toy Collection with IV drips, masks and in hospital This eight-year-old child’s toy collection reflected many real-life pandemic experiences, such as wearing masks, getting vaccinated and hospital treatments.Submitted by Fei Victor Lim 2020-21, Singapore © The Play Observatory. PICTURE: Play In The Pandemic, curated by Young V&A, from 23 March 2022, playinthepandemic.play-observatory.com

• The impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on children’s play is the subject of an online exhibition launched by Young V&A and its partners UCL and the University of Sheffield this week. Play In The Pandemic features some of the 100 submissions sent in from around the globe in answer to a call-out from The Play Observatory research project for people to submit their experiences of play – everything from music videos to children’s artworks and films made by parents showing their children splashing in puddles – alongside objects from the Young V&A’s collection. The exhibition, which takes the form of an unfolding origami house, also features a series of activities – ranging from how to make your own origami house to creating dens and window boxes for people to get involved. Head to the Play Observatory website.

Send all items to exploringlondon@gmail.com.

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