On 9th August 2017 the London Community Video Archive went live. Its aim is to preserve, archive and share community videos made in the 1970s/80s in London Portable video recording — now a technology routinely embodied in smartphones — became available for the very first time back in the early 1970s, making it possible for individuals and communities to make their own television. The medium was taken up by people ignored or under-represented in the mainstream media – tenants on housing estates, community action groups, women, black and minority ethnic groups, youth, gay and lesbian people, and the disabled. With an overriding commitment to social empowerment and to combating exclusion, ‘Community Video’ dealt with issues which still have a contemporary resonance — housing, play-space, discrimination, youth arts.
The archive contains the video Emergency created by Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn in 1974 in support of the campaign to keep Bethnal Green Hospital open. It also hosts an interview with Loraine that outlines how the making of this video became an important touchstone for her subsequent socially engaged art practice.
On 8th May 2017 A Greater London published interviews on its GLC Story web site together with a new zine to commemorate the achievements of the Greater London Council (GLC) in the 1980s.
Loraine Leeson was interviewed in relation to the work of the GLC’s Community Arts Sub-Committee, on which she served during the Labour administration of the 1980s. During this period the most radical re-working of cultural policy that this country has seen took place in the capital, with £millions transferred from London’s ‘centres of excellence’ into cultural projects in which ordinary citizens could participate.
In 1986 the GLC was abolished by Thatcher, but A Greater London aims to recover that lost history, and uncover lessons for today. A group of volunteers collected and recorded these memories, which can be heard here. The oral history project is now complete and to share it with a wider audience a paperback zine has been published, which can be downloaded here, together with transcripts of the interviews.
3.30 – 5pm Saturday 13th May 2017
at National Mills Weekend
For this new phase of the Active Energy project a floating water wheel is being placed in the River Lee close to an historic tidal mill. The outflow from the mill pool will turn the wheel, which will then drive an aerator to oxygenate the water and counteract the effects of pollution on the river’s fish and wildlife.
The process has been led by artist Loraine Leeson working with the Geezers, a seniors’ group based at AgeUK, and supported by the Lea Valley team of the Hydrocitizenship research initiative. Engineer Toby Borland designed and implemented the new wheel, while Thames 21’s Love the Lea has provided facilities, advice and further support. The wheel’s low-cost open source design will soon be viewable on the Active Energy web site so that others can take up the idea.
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