Forgotten Black Essex

Forgotten Black Essex
06 - 31 October 2018
Big Screen, Focal Point Gallery, Elmer Avenue, Southend-on-Sea

Forgotten Black Essex comprises two new video works by Southend-based artist, producer and creative activist, Elsa James, which will be screened throughout October to mark Black History Month. Following a period of research and development, James presents 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’. A pilot project funded through a research and development grant from Arts Council England, with an additional small grant from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, partnership support from Metal, Take the Space and Autograph ABP and collaborative support from S I Martin, Andy Delaney, Amaal Said and Gareth Jones. 

Films in order of screening:
Hester & Hester Woodley, 2018 5 mins
The first reflection concerns the story of Hester Woodley who arrived in Harlow from Saint 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.

Princess Dinubolu, 2018, 6 mins
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.

Elsa James is Southend-based and has established an interdisciplinary practice spanning contemporary performance, text and language-based art, digital media, sociopolitical and socially engaged art.