LondonLife – Insights into the British Black experience…


Part of Yinka Shonibare’s large scale series, Diary of a Victorian Dandy is one of more than 50 photographs exploring the experiences of black people in Britain in the latter half of the 20th century which feature in the V&A’s new exhibition, Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s-1990s. The photographs have been selected from 118 works by 17 artists which the South Kensington museum – working in partnership with Black Cultural Archives – has acquired over the last seven years in a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Along with Shonibare’s 1998 series, others on display include intimate portrayals of British-Caribbean life in London in the 1960s-70s by Neil Kenlock, Armet Francis, Dennis Morris and Charlie Phillips along with Raphael Albert’s depictions of the black beauty pageants he organised from the 1960s to the 1980s, and Norman ‘Normski’ Anderson’s colourful depictions of vibrant youth culture of the 1980s and Nineties. The display is accompanied by oral histories on a range of subjects – including recollections of the photographers, their relatives, and the people depicted in the images – which have been collated by Black Cultural Archives. Runs until 24th May in gallery 38A (admission is free) Coinciding with the exhibition, the BCA is presenting a display of 25 more photographs drawn from the V&A’s collection at their heritage centre in Brixton (runs until 30th June; admission is free). For more, see (and for the Brixton exhibition, see © Yinka Shonibare/Victoria and Albert, London.

Around London – Brixton Windmill reopens; offload your Royal Wedding bunting; and, Women War Artists…

The Brixton Windmill, the only surviving windmill in inner London, was reopened to the public amid much celebration on 1st May. The windmill, located at Windmill Gardens, was built in 1816 and leased the following year by John Ashby. The Ashby family – including the sons and grandsons of John – operated the mill until the 1860s when the Ashby’s milling business was transferred to what was then a more rural location at Mitcham. Two years later the sails were removed and the mill was subsequently used for storage. A steam and later a gas engine were fitted to the mill in the early 20th century but it was finally closed down in 1934. In the 1970s, the mill passed into the ownership of Lambeth Council. A £400,000 Heritage Lottery grant obtained by Friends of Windmill Gardens and Lambeth Council has enabled a complete restoration of the Grade II* listed building. For more details on the mill, including opening hours and events, see

• Wanting to offload some Royal Wedding tat? The Museum of London is looking for objects which help tell the story of how London celebrated the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. They are particularly interested in acquiring materials people used in street parties or private celebrations – everything from paper plates and napkins to bunting and “funny hats”. Donations are unable to be returned even if not used. For details on where to send items, see

Now On: Women War Artists at the Imperial War Museum. Covering the period from World War I to the Kosovo conflict of the 1990s, the exhibition features the work of artists including Anna Airy, one of the first women officially commissioned during the First World War, Dame Laura Knight, Linda Kitson and Frauke Eigen. Admission is free. Runs until 8th January, 2012. For more information, see

Around London – Transport depot open day; Brixton Windmill to reopen; and, St Pancras’ Olympic Rings

The London Transport Museum Depot’s ‘Open Weekend’ kicks off on Saturday. The weekend of events at the depot in Gunnersbury Lane, Acton, will feature model railways, the chance to ride the Acton Miniature Railway – on either a replica 1938 tube train or a Metropolitan steam train – as well as heritage buses, and talks by author and broadcaster Christian Wolmar on his books Engines of War and Subterranean Railway. There will also be events specifically for children. The depot is home to more than 370,000 objects including road and rail vehicles, posters and artwork, and ticket machines. Events run from 11am to 5pm (last entry 4pm). There is an admission charge. For more information, see

Brixton Windmill, the only surviving windmill in inner London, will be open to the public from 2nd May after a major restoration project. The Grade II* listed building, located in Windmill Gardens in Brixton, south-east London, was built in 1816 and was owned by the Ashby family until it ceased production in 1934. It was purchased by the London County Council in 1957 but had since fallen into disrepair. The restoration project, which kicked off in October last year, was partly funded by a £397,700 Heritage Lottery Fund grant obtained by Friends of Windmill Gardens and Lambeth Council. It is envisaged that interpretation materials will be installed and a programme of educational activities run at the site – including growing wheat and mixing flour – after the completion of the restoration work. See for more information.

Giant Olympic Rings were unveiled at St Pancras International earlier this month. The 20 metre wide and nine metre high rings, which have been suspended from the station’s roof, weigh 2,300 kilograms and are made from aluminium. Built in Hertfordshire over four weeks, they took seven nights to install. They’re the first in a series of Olympic Rings that will appear around the city in the lead-up to the 2012 Games. The Olympics was last held in London in 1948.