In Living Memory: a people’s history of post-war Lewisham

Goldsmiths is the delivery partner for ‘In Living Memory’, a Lewisham Borough of Culture 2022 heritage initiative.

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In Living Memory celebrates Lewisham’s diversity and heritage for London Borough of Culture 2022. It empowers Lewisham’s communities to tell their own stories, presenting them through traditional means as well as artistic and cultural activities and events.

Seven community-led projects selected from around 70 expressions of interest will be supported to undertake primary research into their chosen topic, gathering the memories of local people and sharing them through striking cultural activities that unfold across 2022.

The community-led projects will receive training, academic advice, access to Goldsmiths campus and library, support from our talented students and guidance to help them realise their creative ambitions.

Alongside the seven projects, Goldsmiths will be working with a range of academic, heritage and community stakeholders to develop plans for a new digital archive and online museum.

The programme will launch in late February 2022 with a prologue event responding to the opening chapter of Booker Prize longlisted novel, Light Perpetual, by award-wining author, Francis Spufford, describing a 1944 V2 rocket attack that destroyed shops on New Cross Road.

Find out about the seven projects that will transform our understanding of Lewisham’s post-war history, below.

Projects

Pioneers and protests by IRIE! dance theatre

Based at the historic Moonshot Centre, this project is inspired by the powerful legacy of the 1981 Black People’s Day of Action. It will work with young people and the wider community to gather and share memories and archive material, inspiring a series of creative activities including dance, film and public art.

Lewisham underwater: Remembering Lewisham’s 1968 floods by Quaggy Waterways Action Group (QWAG) and Lewisham Council

On 15 September 1968, following days of torrential rain, much of Lewisham found itself under water. This project will gather the memories of local people who were affected, connecting an event over 50 years ago with the current climate emergency. Proposed cultural activities include street art, family-friendly fun on Lewisham’s rivers, and even a new ‘Flood beer’.

Tomorrow is built today: Lewisham Black-led community self-build by Tim Oshodi

The untold story of Lewisham’s pioneering black-led self-build movement will be told through the memories of those who overcame institutional barriers and racist arson attacks to create award winning eco-homes on Nubia Way in Downham. Creative interpretations of compelling audio-visual documentation will engage a new generation alongside self-build demonstrations and virtual tours.

Where to, now that the sequins have gone? by Paul Green

This project will uncover the histories of Lewisham’s lost gay venues that thrived from the 1970s – 90s by gathering the memories and stories of the people who created informal communities responding to social and political challenges, and the AIDS crisis. It will explore different generations’ perceptions around gentrification and the loss of these physical queer spaces, as well as how the internet has allowed the LGBTQ+ community to find peer support in a digitally connected world.

The story of social dancing in Lewisham and why it matters now by Shân Maclennan

This project will explore the significance of social dance in the borough and how it has contributed to our unique character today by uncovering the diverse stories of local dance socials. Through curated conversations, food, music, film and performance, the history of venues like the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park, which has hosted dancing since the 1950s and the Broadway Theatre in Catford, will come to life to inspire a new generation. 

A Caribbean couturier in Lewisham by Joy Prime

Part of the Windrush Generation, Joy’s mother travelled to London in 1963 to begin a new life in Lewisham. Although she was an accomplished fashion designer and tailor, her skills were not recognised in the UK and she was forced to find work as a seamstress in Lewisham’s garment factories. Inspired by Joy’s story, this project will explore the forgotten textile legacies of the women of the Windrush Generation through design collaborations.

Birthing Lewisham by Maternity Voices Partnership

Birthing Lewisham will be a programme of audio-visual works that bring together the radical and resilient experiences of collective family making by diverse communities, midwives, care-workers and through family generations and their support networks. Created by families from across the borough, the programme will highlight the social and emotional labour through post war history that has contributed to Lewisham’s community cultural activism to date.