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Looking back with local artist Dan Jones

A retrospective exhibition of artist Dan Jones’s work spanning more than 40 years has opened at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives. The exhibition features over 50 of Dan’s paintings and posters reflecting East End life and history, with a focus on the evocation of community life in the borough during the 1970s and 1980s.

Dan explained: “The work in this exhibition is a long conversation about what I’ve been involved with over the years, living and working and loving Tower Hamlets. It features personal local heroes, both famous and unknown, naughty boys who turned out to be diamonds after all, and wonderful characters like Trevor Huddlestone, Tommy Finn, Blair Peach, Malcolm Johnson and Tunde Ikoli.”

The paintings feature local Stepney scenes including shoppers and skateboarders in bustling Watney Market, the traditional Wapping Pipe and Drum Band and the community-organised E1 Festival.

Dan’s subjects also include political demonstrations from East End history right up to the time of his paintings, including the Poplar Rates Rebellion of 1921, the anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street in 1996 and the march to save the former Inner London Education Authority in the 1980s.

His posters publicised many local causes including demonstrations against racist murders, promoting canoeing in Shadwell Basin and the recruitment of Bangladeshi foster parents.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, welcomed the retrospective, saying: “There is much to learn about the history of our borough from the paintings and posters in this exhibition – they brilliantly capture our multicultural borough’s grassroots activism, culture and community life, portrayed with fondness and wit by a respected artist from the local community.”

Councillor Shafiqul Haque, Cabinet Member for Culture, said: “This great exhibition, and the programme of free public events which go with it taking place at the library and at Idea Stores, is a great way of exploring the borough’s history and sharing it with all the family during the summer holidays.”

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives is at 277 Bancroft Road, E1 4DQ.
The exhibition will run until 15th November. The Library is open on Tuesdays (10am-5pm), Wednesdays (9am-5pm), Thursday (9am-8pm) and on the first and third Saturdays of the month (9am-5pm).
For more information about the exhibition, visit www.ideastore.co.uk


Workshops to accompany the Dan Jones retrospective

Drawing Street Life with Dan Jones
Tuesday, 12th August, 2-4pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
Inspired by Dan Jones’ pictures of bustling 1970s street life, a special workshop to create collaborative street scenes with the artist himself. Suitable for all ages.
(To be repeated at Idea Store Watney Market in September)

Make a Campaign Poster with Dan Jones
Saturday, 6th September, 2-4pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
Make your own poster promoting a campaign from the East End’s past or present that is important to you, with the help of our archival collections and some simple printing techniques. Suitable for all ages.

Film screening: Vince, Paul, Lawrence and Richard
Thursday, 11th September, 6-8pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
Screening of the 1971 BAFTA-winning documentary in which four Stepney boys roam derelict dockland looking for fun and adventure under the watchful eye of youth worker Dan Jones. Are they really destined for borstal as the narrator suggests? Introduced by artist Chris Dorley-Brown.

Poetry workshop with Dan Jones
Wednesday, 17th September, 6.30-8pm
Idea Store Whitechapel
Write and perform an original piece of work reflecting on some aspect of your life in the borough that makes you laugh, cheer or weep.

Film screening: Alright, We’ll Do It Ourselves
Thursday, 25th September, 6-8pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
A rare chance to see this 1973 BBC documentary about the E1 Festival, the subject of several works in the Dan Jones retrospective in the same venue. The E1 Festival was organised by local residents and took place on vacant land in Stepney for many years during the 1970s. The film’s director Jenny Barraclough will be in conversation with Dan after the screening.

For more information about these events, visit www.ideastore.co.uk


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