After Grenfell:  Preserving North Kensington’s local history through the arts

After Grenfell:  Preserving North Kensington’s local history through the arts



Local community organisations are developing an archive of North Kensington’s creative response during a period of rapid historical change since the Grenfell Tower fire with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Called the Kensington Art & Heritage Archive Project, the collection will preserve artworks and testimonies produced by local people, and developed by a local group the “Kensington Narrators”, in partnership with Birkbeck, University of London, the Bishopsgate Institute; and FerArts, a non-profit youth arts’ organisation. The project is supported by a £99,700 National Lottery grant.

Christina, a local resident, parent, and the founder of “Kensington Narrator”, spent a year in consultation with the local community. During these conversations it became apparent  there was an urgent need for both physical and digital storage space for the preservation of historical and precious materials which were at risk of being lost, and the stories of being forgotten.

Christina said: “Since the experience of being under a global media spotlight, our young people have come to understand that the media cannot be the only voice telling our story. The preservation of our local heritage is a creative, educational and empowering response to the tragedy. The archive will document, preserve and celebrate our community in all its diversity, resilience, collaboration, colour, and vibrancy.”

This initiative will provide mentoring, skills, and the tools to enable our young history-makers to build a positive legacy, represent their own identities through art, and preserve their own heritage. Birkbeck historians will also work with local arts-leaders and young people to develop creative content, including video, photography, podcasting and writing, which will be showcased in a permanent digital exhibition. In addition, the project team will also train volunteers in how to use the archives and to learn about the history of communities.

Dr Julia Laite, Lecturer in History at Birkbeck, is developing the project alongside the community groups. She said: “The important part of this project is that it will build capacity to continue to document, preserve, and interpret the culture, art and heritage of North Kensington  in a format that can be widely accessed for many generations to come.”

The archive will be held at Bishopsgate Institute and managed by a board of trustees made up of North Kensington residents. The project has been made possible by generous funding from the National Lottery and the voluntary work of local organisers.


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