Relive Brixton’s 70 immigration years

Brixton Revival gig in Diverse on Coldharbour Lane during last years design trail
Brixton Revival gig in Diverse on Coldharbour Lane during last years design trail

Delores William gets to sit in the Front Room at 100 Acre Lane – where she meets Terry Humphrey and finds out about Brixton Revival, its art projects and a lot more …

I’m at 100 Acre Lane sitting in a space called the Front Room with local DJ and artist Terry Humphrey. The Front Room is a take on the old fashioned Black living room, the best room. You know – the room you were not allowed into; the Black front room of old, which held a drinks cabinet containing Cherry B and Babycham.

Oh, the good old days. I mentioned the fact that we couldn’t have sat in the front rooms of old and Terry says that those days are over – it’s a modern twist and now everyone is welcome to come and sit in the retro chairs and have a natter.

Revival studio front roomThe Front Room started as a pop-up shop and art space by Monica Pottinger. Monica, looking for a collaboration, approached talented artist Alvin Kofi. Kofi jumped at the chance and brought along with him Terry, who I’m chatting with.

Monica wanted them to help develop and expand the space artistically, so Terry and Kofi set up the Brixton Revival. It’s been successful. With projects looking at Black art, music, fashion and food, Kofi says that the space allows them to experiment and see what and how the events unfold.

I ask why do we need a Revival? Terry explains that Brixton Revival looks at Black and African immigration into Brixton over the last 70 years. He calls these The Immigration Years. The hope is to educate people about the history of the area and to update the Revival’s own archives.

When Brixton Revival was part of the first Brixton Design Trail last year, Terry was surprised by the number of people who don’t know the history of Black Brixton. This, he says, included the Brixton Design Trail founders.

Last year Brixton Revival produced a paper map of the oldest local shops that have been selling ethnic foods for many years – wanting to give people a chance to experience a Black shopping experience. It was hugely popular.

They also recorded some oral history from the shop owners and consumers creating a sound map which they put on to their Facebook page. 

They also took the opportunity to give some of the older businesses advice and information on ways of staying up to date in Brixton’s current climate – how not to get swallowed up by the new business coming into the area. Terry says a lot of the older business owners can become “stuck in their ways and just need that little bit of advice”. He stresses that most of the shop owners were grateful for the advice.

Brixton Revival organises a variety of workshops on different topics I had just missed a session on “How to manage your natural hair”. They sell beautiful artwork which I drooled over, African craft wear, gifts and accessories.

There is, of course, an art space and they hold regular events and discussions. Starting on Saturday 8 April from 10.30 to 12.30 in the morning there will be a drawing class and an artist’s talk after.

There are also storytelling workshops in the planning – so watch this space.