|Eric and Jessica Huntley|
They set up a pioneering publishing company Bogle l'Ouverture, a bookshop, dozens of art projects. Their home and bookshop became a hub for thinkers, campaigners, creative people. The Huntleys gave their personal archive to the London Metropolitan Archives a few years back, and it's totally inspiring to see how flyers, notes from meetings, publications, letters, posters, film, photographs are all being catalogued and becoming live public resources. This changes the way London's history is presented. It's part of correcting how the mainstream usually edits out the contributions of communities it would rather ignore.
We were blessed with Eric and Jessica's presence and also their family, and to me this gave an incredible sense of being part of an extended family of people, who are all working in a thousand different creative ways to wear away at racism, exclusion, and the suppression of rights. The day felt totally like part of movement-building, and particularly in Errol Lloyd's far-reaching presentation, where he connected up so many issues. The fact that this was happening in an archive felt kind of subversive and very interesting, like we were somehow the living part of the archive of activist objects which Jessica and Eric donated. In fact the yearly Huntley conferences are filmed, and archived, as part of the collection.
|with illustrations by |
keynote speaker Errol Lloyd
|From Roshini's 'Virtual Exiles' project|
The question came up "How can you make interventions on what is not there?" The role of the artist was part of the answer, thinking about Toni Morrison's 're-membering', from her book Beloved.
I came away affirmed all over again that we need to make sure we tell our own stories, preserve our own artefacts, take care as best we can to represent our own history... If we don't, the history that will prevail in the mainstream is one that will edit us out, misrepresent, or worse. I also felt so happy that this well-run, thought-provoking, political and joyful event could take place in LMA, supported by such committed, progressive staff with a really long-term view on what they are doing.
Practical Tips - Activists are notorious for throwing stuff away because they are getting on with the next fight, but this can mean we lose opportunities to make our own history and learn from others' history. The LMA archivist said, keep your stuff in a dry space with a fairly constant temperature! Scan important docs if you can, and put on a disc, put online, but DON'T BIN ANY PRECIOUS ORIGINALS...
And if you haven't already, start collecting now if you want a chance of a certain history being told...
London Metropolitan Archives is always looking for archives from ordinary people, organisations, and groups who have a particular London story to tell... Don't be put off by plain-looking website.