About the Project.
The Rural Black History Project aims to challenge the perception of rural England as an ahistorical white space, by illuminating the work of historians whose research contradicts this perception.
We strive to do this by creating fictive emotional and personal histories based on concrete historical data, engaging in a series of activities that will create multiple “hypothetical biographies”.
Through art, storytelling, community engagement and public events, this project aims to viscerally connect our participants and audiences to a more diverse understanding of England’s rural past.
We hope that by its design, the Rural Black History Project will have a constantly evolving life. Our project started its life in December 2019, when the history of Black Britons was firmly out of the mainstream, let alone the history of those Black Britons whose experiences lay outside of the Windrush Generation and the slave trade. Thankfully since then we have seen the much needed surge of engagement in this field, but the work is far from over. We hope this project goes some way to not only keeping recent conversations going, but can have a long lasting impact on the way that England’s Rural History is perceived.
Project #1: The Rural Black History Project in the Cotswolds
For our first project, we will be exploring the Rural Black British History of the Cotswolds. Using records and studies from the district and its immediate surrounding areas, we will work with professional and community creatives to build artistic responses in the form of three-dimensional, hypothetical biographies. These artistic responses will then be presented alongside a broader exploration of Rural Black History, in a public exhibition held in the heart of the Cotswolds.
What we'll deliver:
3 professionally produced short films, employing local creative talent from the Cotswolds
10 interactive workshops exploring Rural Black History and facilitating artistic responses from participants
A public exhibition at New Brewery Arts, Cirencester, displaying the work created by our professional and community creatives in response to Rural Black History
This project will bring together a myriad of people together from across the Cotswolds, legitimising the Black British legacies of the region and celebrating our shared complex and dynamic history through creative expression.
For more information on the project and how to support it, visit https://www.spacehive.com/the-rural-black-history-project
In the future we hope to keep discovering stories, and developing larger scale artistic responses to the historical data. As well as continuing to make short films and facilitate other artistic responses, we plan to develop a one-act, biographical play based on the life of a 14-15th century Black Briton living in the West Country, drawn from historical data, working with regional and Black-identifying artists to bring their story to life. We then envisage this to be performed in the West Country, before then touring alongside a larger exhibition of our work.
We also hope to develop a permanent digital exhibition that will present our every growing collection of hypothetical biographies, and act as visual evidence of our ongoing journey. As part of this exhibition, we will include a short guide on how users can conduct their own research in their local area detailing what they should look for and how they can contact us with their research. By presenting this online we aim to make this exhibition accessible to all, but we will also archive physical elements of the project so that it can be easily installed in museums and cultural heritage sites.