Forgotten Black Essex: Elsa James
Open Evening: Thursday 22 February 2018, 6pm -9 pm
Following an explorative period of research and development, Elsa James presents Forgotten Black Essex, a personal aural and visual reflection concerning the historical accounts of two distinct black women, whose stories have been unearthed from our national archives. Both women spent time in Essex, however, both their stories have shifted into the realms of the county’s ‘forgotten black past’.
The first reflection concerns the story of Hester Woodley who arrived in Harlow from St Kitts during the 1700’s as a house slave to the Woodley family. Her story is intertwined with her granddaughter also named Hester, however, when Hester senior dies in 1767, the Woodleys erect a ‘fine headstone’ in her memory – an extraordinary gesture and extremely unusual for a slave.
The second story reflects the anecdote of a woman called Princess Dinubolu from Senegal who came to Southend in 1908 to enter a beauty pageant competition – her story provoked a national frenzy.
“My approach to working with these two stories are not just to retell or reenact them, rather I am curious to ground them in the present by layering a contemporary lens that reinterprets how the stories resonate with me as a black woman currently living in Essex” –Elsa James.
Forgotten Black Essex is funded by the Arts Council England and Southend Borough Council, with partnership support from Metal, Take the Space and Autograph ABP, and collaborative support from S I Martin, Andy Delaney, Amaal Said and Gareth Jones.
FREE – All welcome