After Grenfell: Preserving North Kensington’s local history through the arts

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Local community organisations are developing an archive of North Kensington’s creative response during a period of rapid historic change since the Grenfell Tower fire with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Called the Kensington Art & Heritage Archive Project, the collection will preserve artworks and testimonies produced by local people, and developed by local group the Kensington Narrators, in partnership with: Birkbeck, University of London; the Bishopsgate Institute; and FerArts, a non-profit youth arts organisation. The project is supported by a £99,700 National Lottery grant.

Christina, a local resident, parent, and the founder of Kensington Narrators, spent a year in consultation with the local community, and during these conversations it became apparent  there was an urgent need for both physical and digital storage space for preservation; historical and precious material was at risk of being lost, and stories at risk of being forgotten.

Christina said: “Since the experience of being under a global media spotlight, our young people have come to understand that the media cannot be the only voice telling our story. The preservation of our local heritage is a creative, educative and empowering response to the tragedy. The archive will document, preserve and celebrate our community in all its diversity, resilience, collaboration, colour, and vibrancy.”

This initiative will provide mentoring, skills, and the tools to enable our young history-makers to build a positive legacy, represent their own identities through art, and preserve their own heritage. Birkbeck historians will also work with local arts-leaders and young people to develop creative content, including video, photography, podcasting and writing, which will be showcased in a permanent digital exhibition. In addition, the project team will also train volunteers in how to use archives to learn about the history of communities.

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