ICONS ON RAILTON ROAD, Brixton Advice Centre

Fresh from a recent building refurbishment and visual rebranding, the Brixton Advice Centre is launching a dynamic graphic art installation.

Created by local designer and artist, Jon Daniel, this panoramic vinyl window display spanning the full length of the Brixton Advice Centre building pays tribute to the building’s cultural heritage and a special selection of local heroes who have had historical links with both the building and the road it proudly sits on.

The people featured are: CLR James, Winifred Atwell, Darcus Howe, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Farrukh Dhondy and Olive Morris. (See below for short biographies on each)

Launched to co-incide with UK Black History Month 2015, it acknowledges the vital role of the Brixton Advice Centre and its place in the heart of the Brixton community.

We would like to thank all the people who have supported this artwork, especially the photographers; Neil Kenlock(CLR James, Darcus Howe & Farrukh Dhondy); Adrian Boot (Linton Kwesi Johnson); Estate of Walter Hanlon & the National Portrait Gallery (Winifred Atwell) for their generous contribution in helping make this artwork and the colourful history of Railton Road come alive.

For more information contact Patrick Torsney by email at patrick@brixtonadvice.org.uk


C.L.R. JAMES an Afro-Trinidadian historian, journalist, socialist theorist, essayist and political activist lived and died in this building. As a pioneering and influential voice in postcolonial literature, his works have been influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts. And as a tireless political activist, his history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, is a seminal text in the literature of the African Diaspora. In 1934, James wrote a three-act play about the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture, which was staged in London's West End in 1936 and starred Paul Robeson, Orlando Martins, Robert Adams and Harry Andrews. That same year also saw the publication of his novel, Minty Alley, the first novel to be published by a black Caribbean author in the UK. Image adapted from an original photograph CLR James © Neil Kenlock. All Rights Reserved.

UNA WINIFRED ATWELL was a Trinidadian pianist who enjoyed great popularity in Britain and Australia from the 1950s with a series of boogie-woogie and ragtime hits, selling over 20 million records. She was the first black person to have a number-one hit in the UK Singles chart, and is still the only female instrumentalist to do so. Based just down the road her salon at 82a, was possibly the first black women’s hairdressers in London. Image adapted from an original bromide fibre print of Winifred Atwell by Walter Hanlon, 1952 © Estate of Walter Hanlon

DARCUS HOWE (born 26 February 1943 in Trinidad) is a British broadcaster, writer, civil liberties campaigner and former Editor of the British political magazine, Race Today whose offices were situated in this building. Howe arrived in England intending to study law, where he joined the British Black Panthers, the first such branch of the organisation outside the United States. Darcus's wife, Leila Hassan Howe was also a key member of the Race Today collective. She was Assistant Editor of the journal and was a prominent member of the Black Unity and Freedom party in her own right. Image adapted from an original photograph. Darcus Howe © Neil Kenlock. All Rights Reserved.

LINTON KWESI JOHNSON aka LKJ (born in Jamaica, Sunday 24 August 1952) was another notable member of the Race Today Collective. Linton joined the group in 1974. His first book of poems appeared the same\ year under the Race Today imprint, and he later served as the magazine's arts editor. The publication and its editor feature prominently in the song "Man Free (For Darcus Howe)" on Linton Kwesi Johnson's 1978 debut album Dread Beat an’ Blood with his then band, Poet and the Roots. Image adapted from an original photograph. LKJ © Adrian Boot. All Rights Reserved.

FARRUKH DHONDY (born in Poona, India in 1944) is a British writer, playwright, screenwriter and left-wing activist of Parsi descent. It was here in this very building, the offices of Race Today in 1970, that along with the British Black Panther movement and his close friend Darcus Howe and partner Mala Sen that he discovered his calling as a writer. Image adapted from an original photograph Farrukh Dhondy © Neil Kenlock. All Rights Reserved.

OLIVE MORRIS (1952 - 1979) was a community leader and activist in the feminist, black nationalist, and squatters' rights campaigns of the 1970s. A founding member of the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) in London, She also helped found the Brixton Black Women's Group, the Manchester Black Women's Cooperative and Manchester Black Women's Mutual Aid Group. In 1972, Olive and Liz Turnbull, both members of the British Black Panther movement, occupied a flat above a launderette at no.121 on this road and successfully fought off attempts at illegal eviction. In doing so, they set an example for hundreds of homeless young people in Brixton and the flat remained squatted for many years. Image adapted from an original photograph © Unknown

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