Uncovering the Archive

The programme offers a free series of workshops & screenings with an aim to engage young people (18-25) from marginalised backgrounds and/or those who have not engaged with archives before or are not currently in higher education. The intention is to introduce the archive as a resource and archiving as a mode of storytelling available to, and representative of, those who are normally excluded from history- making practices.

By working with the collections held at MDR, partnered archives, cultural spaces and creative practitioners working with archives, the programme aims to offer young people with the tools to confidently explore, interrogate and create the stories they want to tell or wish were told through engaging activities that centre creative play, conversation and making. By introducing young people to places, digital spaces and people that are made for/representative of them, we hope to empower their claim to history and what is important to them.

Every month we will publicise new in-person events – you can sign up online and let us know of any access needs you may have. All materials, snacks and refreshments will be provided and we will also reimburse your travel costs up to £5 to make easier for you to participate. 

We would like this programme to be accessible to anyone that feels it may be useful for them. If you are above 25 and feel that you would like to attend events please get in touch at lamya@maydayrooms.org

This programme has been developped in partnership with Iniva, George Padmore Institute, Black Cultural Archive, June Givanni’s Pan African Cinema Archive, 56A Infoshop, Tower Hamlets Local History Archive & Library, MayDay Radio, LUX Moving Image, PageMasters & many artists, activists and thinkers!

Funded by Arts Council England 

Current and Recent Workshops and Events

Friday 26th April, 6 pm – 8 pm
Stuart Hall Library @ Iniva 
16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU

Join Cassia Clarke as we explore the value of personal photographic archives and learn how to care for and preserve them.

“Had her name been scribbled on the back of the albumen print, there would be at least one fact I could convey with a measure of certainty, one detail I would not have to guess, one less obstacle in retracing the girl’s path through the streets of the city.”

Saidiya Hartman; Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2021); A Minor Figure, pg. 13-14

Observing the work of Eugene Palmer and the writing of Saidiya Hartman, this workshop invites participants to engage in collective discussion and creativity that delves into the emotional, visual, and tangibility of the domestic archive.

The session’s purpose is to collectively and independently reverse the effects of our failure to record (contextually) and to breathe value back into our photographs’ longevity (physically). To remember and to be remembered we need to preserve domestic archives.

The workshop will be split into three themes: a drawing and discussion-based activity, ‘Emotional’, a photographic recreation activity, ‘Visual’, and a physical and contextual preservation activity, ‘Tangibility’.

PARTICIPANT INSTRUCTIONS : Bring one personal (family) photograph with you to the workshop (either digital or physical)

Sign up here

Cassia Clarke is a Luton-born British-Caribbean self-taught archivist, researcher and facilitator. She uses an autoethnographic and co-curatorial approach to engage greater knowledge democracy and collective intervention to better our accessibility to institutionally held knowledge. Her project, ‘Take My Word For It’ aims to confront a gap in the knowledge and material exchange between GLAM institutions (Gallery, Library, Archive, Museum) and the community to assist the preservation of physical photographic archives within the home.

April – May 2024

Members of the MayDay Radio collective are running a series of three skill-sharing workshops! These workshops will center around researching, interviewing, listening, audio recording and technical support, with a focus on understanding the value and use of oral histories to expand and maintain archival material.

Using materials from the MayDay archives as a starting point, the workshops will offer support towards the creation of a new set of experimental oral histories to be hosted on the MayDay radio website.

This is a great opportunity to gain practical skills in production as well as engage critically with archival material. All we ask is you can make all the workshops as you will be working towards a final project together!

Participants must be able to commit to all three workshops, 11am – 4pm on Saturday:

6th April
20th April
11th May

The questions below are for us to learn a little bit about yourself, and any ideas/thoughts of what you might want to work with from the collection so we can get an idea of the interests of the group. Priority will be given to those who are not currently in higher or further education.

Apply here

Deadline Sunday 31st March 

Any questions, get in touch with us at audio@maydayrooms.org

Sunday March 17th and Sunday April 21st, 12-4pm

Join us over two sessions for a hands-on archival filmmaking workshop exploring the role and place of (institutional and community) archives in storytelling and how we can respond to or rework them in personal and political ways through filmmaking. 

Session ONE on Sunday March 17th |  12-4pm  will be an introduction to archives, what they hold, what they obscure, the stories they endorse, who creates them and for whom. We will explore different types of archives, institutional and community-created archives (such as the Activist Media Project at MDR), ways that traditional archives can be subverted and used to tell our own stories in creative ways, and the ethics of archival filmmaking. As part of the day we will watch and discuss historical and contemporary works by Black and non-white filmmakers to explore several strategies and modes of archival filmmaking that participants can take further whilst making their own films. 

Session TWO on Sunday April 21st | 12-4pm we will gather again to watch the films that were created. Each participant will talk about the process of making their archive film – what worked, what went wrong, and what they would do differently next time. Each will introduce their film and the group is encouraged to give feedback after viewing the films together. The ability to reflect on and critique films is incredibly important and this an opportunity to work on that skill as well to think of how you develop your own filmmaking approach for future projects. Due to the size of the group this will be done iteratively over the course of a couple of hours with lots of time for breaks.  

More here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScGt-orcVaO9Qq3zCOwvsMZmI_bRjvIizf3rXJ-fkWEtjr1FQ/viewform

Application Deadline: Friday 9th February, 11:59 pm

LUX and MayDay Rooms are collaborating on a series of four workshops for participants ages 18-25, as part of the ‘Uncovering the Archive’ project. 

Join us for four sessions exploring the themes of personal, community and activist media archives, including access to works within the LUX collection. 

What to expect: 

Participants will be asked to consider their relationship with and access to historic media, such as home videos, archives in your community, or recordings of your own activism and organising. These might have been filmed on phones, digital cameras or video tape. 

The series of workshops will be a chance to explore what it means to record and archive for ourselves, our communities and shared struggles, as well as what it means to situate these histories in the present. You will develop your unique way of archiving stories that resonate with you through the medium of moving images. The aim is for you to incorporate your research into these archives and create something that can be screened during the final session. 

This programme will be facilitated by Charlotte Procter and Sun Park (LUX) in collaboration with the MayDay Rooms collective. Two of the sessions will be facilitated in collaboration with LUX artists whose work speak to the ideas we will be exploring. 

Refreshments will be provided at each session. 


  • Wednesday 21 February, 6 – 9 pm 
  • Saturday 16 March, 12 – 3 pm
  • Wednesday 24 April, 6 – 8 pm
  • Saturday  May, 2 – 5 pm

Who can join:

Participants are expected to commit to all four sessions as each workshop contributes to the development of the final presentation. 

Participants do not need any prior experience of working with archives or filmmaking; these are not sessions requiring technical knowledge or expertise.

The programme is free, prospective participants will be asked to write a short explanation of why they would like to participate in this programme. Participants should not be currently enrolled in higher education. 

Capacity: 8 spaces.

Applications open 19 January, look out on our website and social media

56A Infoshop & MDR

  • Get your hands on some wonderful old squatting publications!
  • Think about what these people’s histories mean to us today!
  • Make our own Squatters Handbook!

Frankie and Chris from 56a Infoshop, a long term London-based radical social centre and archive, invite you to dive into London’s rich and varied squatting histories with a particular focus on the involvement of women and Black and Brown people in those stories.

In Session One, we’ll be introducing you to 56a Infoshop, our archival squatting material and why we run a public radical archive. Sharing some choice publications, some short films and other bits and pieces, we’ll let you loose on the material. We’ll create together a timeline of what jumps out and what inspires you and what important questions we can bring about those times but also about housing today. We will take those questions forward into the next session.

In Session Two, we continue to look at the squatting archive and have a guided discussion: How do you personally connect with these histories? Have you found out any more about the topics you were most interested in? How does the material at 56a Infoshop connect with other archives? Using copies of 56a material (posters, documents, etc) and anything you want to bring into the session to ‘show and tell’, we’ll collectively make a squatters handbook using your insights and ideas to take away and share.

Sessions will be loosely facilitated with time for dreaming, breaks for fresh air and space for solo or group work.

Thursday 8 February, 6-8 pm 

Experience the lives of the Black British community from 1960s-1990s using materials from the George Padmore Institute (GPI) archive collections. Relive this experience through poetry by the renowned reggae poet, recording artist, writer and GPI trustee Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Join us for a George Padmore Institute workshop led by Sarah Garrod (GPI Archivist), in collaboration with the MayDay Rooms’ Activating the Archive Youth Programme. The session will focus on rediscovering identity in the black community (1960s-1990s), from overcoming the lingering suppression of colonialism to methods of reversing damage caused by prejudice and negativity.

We will expand on these themes with an illustrated talk, covering elements of education, Carnival, movements and campaigns. Attendees will also be invited to view original archive materials. We are delighted that reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson will be present to deliver a poetry reading capturing identity and empowerment.

George Padmore Institute: The George Padmore Institute (GPI) is an archive and educational research centre based in Finsbury Park, London. It promotes understanding of black communities of Caribbean, African and Asian descent in Britain and overseas. Dealing with anti-racist, social, political, cultural and economic struggles, the material is rare or unique, which makes the GPI a vital resource in Britain and globally.

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ) is widely recognised as one of the great poets of modern times and a deeply respected and influential political and cultural activist and social critic. Born in Clarendon, Jamaica, Johnson has been living in south London since he was eleven. He is an acclaimed reggae poet and recording artist who has toured the world. His albums range from Dread Beat An’ Blood to, most recently, LKJ Live in Paris. His poetry books include Selected Poems (Penguin). LKJ is a trustee of the GPI and Chair of 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning in Brixton.

Sign ups open 24 January, look out on our website and social media

Application Deadline: Thursday 24th January at 11:59 pm.

Radical print design, production and dissemination builds momentum and forges solidarities around urgent issues. Such propaganda has resisted the privatising and sanitising of public space, implicating anyone that looks and making concerns hard to ignore.

We are welcoming all applicants between the ages of 18-25 to take part in a free 5-day Print Residency. A cohort of 8 participants will be armed with the knowledge and technical tools to create their own radical print ephemera for mass distribution! 

This residency is made in collaboration with Seth Dresden Wheeler, *daikon zine, Dudley Dreamwalsh, Rabbits Road Press & others!


Friday 2nd February, 6 pm – 9 pm
Saturday 17th February, 12 pm – 5 pm
Saturday 9th March, 12 pm – 5 pm
Saturday 23rd March, 12 pm – 5 pm
Friday 3rd May, 6 pm – 9 pm 

You will receive:

  • A guided dive into print ephemera held at MayDay Rooms archive.
  • An introduction into designing for print
  • Immersive hands on print training at PageMasters print studio
  • Access to specialist equipment and materials
  • Intimate discussions from activists and artists with a practice in print making & mass distribution
  • 1-1 mentorship from experts
  • £25 towards your travel costs + refreshments provided

** Please note we will only accept applicants who can commit to all session days as each workshop informs the others. The residency will be made up of a cohort of 8 participants or less to encourage meaningful engagement and collaboration.

Apply here

The Black Film Review was an international quarterly journal that highlighted films and filmmakers from the African Diaspora, with a strong focus on independent cinema. Founded by David Nicholson in 1984 in Washington DC, the publication was edited by filmmaker and producer Jacquie Jones who expanded the journal’s coverage on Pan-African film and filmmakers, gaining significant acclaim for the publication with engaging and informed writers and covering Black British filmmakers significantly.

Inspired by the Black Film Review in the US, Givanni and Gaylene Gould co-founded the Black Film Bulletin, a magazine providing space for critical commentary around developments in new Black cinema and Pan African cinema histories. Publication paused in 2000 but BFB returned in 2020 with the aim of revisiting key moments from the archives, exploring current perspectives and casting a critical eye on what the future holds.

Black Film Bulletin is published bi-annually as a supplement in Sight and Sound Magazine. The magazine editors are June Givanni (founder of the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive), Jan Asante (THINK Cinematic founder) and Mel Hoyes (Head of Inclusion at BFI).

The aim of the discussion event is to explore the significance publications such as BFR and BFB play in improving representations of Black people that are often not prevalent in media conversations relating to black film and black culture. 

We will also screen ‘And This Too Shall Pass: Decolonizing Film’ an 11-minute documentary on Black Film Bulletin by June Givanni and Jan Asante.

Sign up here. 

Workshop led by artist Fiona Quadri with June Givanni

In this zine workshop, we continue the dialogue on the importance of Black-led publications such as Black Film Bulletin & Black Film Review and participants are invited to encounter the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive through a creative lens. Similarly to these magazines, zines represent a publication practice outside of mainstream publications. Moreover, zines exist in a multitude of aesthetics and formats and can be shared, reproduced and archived. 


To begin, the individuals will gain a deeper understanding on the importance of Black-led Journalism and archives for the Black community through a discussion with June Givanni.

The heart of the session is dedicated to the art of crafting a one-page zine with reproductions from the archive and Fiona Quadri’s private collection. The mixed-media approach serves as a response to the discussion on publishing and archiving, utilising the archival material and combining it with new ideas and perspectives. The workshop will end with a short presentation of the zines.

Sign up here

Mental Health Under Capitalism
with Micha Frazer-Carroll (author of Mad World: the politics of mental health) and Sophie K Rosa (author of Radical Intimacy).

Monday 22nd January 7 – 9 pm
Reference Point

What does it mean to be well in a system designed to exploit us? How can we make the best of our lives in social, economic and political conditions that cause us, those around us and the planet to suffer? How can we resist structural violence – to make way for a world in which more of us can feel better – whilst staying well enough to keep going? Sophie and Micha will discuss questions like these, as well as opening up space for discussion. The second half of the event will be more active, with a workshop looking at how we might strengthen practices of collective care in our lives.

Sophie K Rosa is a writer and the author of Radical Intimacy. She is also a trainee psychoanalyst.

Micha Frazer-Carroll is an author, journalist and editor living in London. She is committed to challenging systems of oppression and supporting social justice movements in building towards a liberated future. Writing is one technique she uses in order to do this.

Sign up here

Painting Archival Histories

with Rudy Loewe

Friday 10th November, 6 pm 
Stuart Hall Library, 16 John Islip St, London SW1P 4JU

As part of the ‘Uncovering the Archive’ series, artist Rudy Loewe will speak about their encounters with the archive and what it means to foreground histories and personal stories of Black power, community organising, queer life and revolution through visual art.

This is an opportunity to think through visual art as a medium for interrogation, speculation and redressing of histories presumed to be invisible or absent. How can this practice speak back to the institutions implicated in decentring stories belonging to those who disobeyed, resisted and thrived against all odds?

There will be time at the end to ask Rudy questions as well as explore the Stuart Hall Library’s collections!

Sign up here

Rudy Loewe
 is an artist visualising Black histories and social politics through painting, drawing and text. They began a Techne funded practice-based PhD at the University of the Arts London in 2021. This research critiques Britain’s role in suppressing Black Power in the English-speaking Caribbean, during the 60s and 70s. Loewe is creating paintings and drawings that unravel this history included in recently declassified Foreign & Commonwealth Office records.

Image: ‘Rudy Loewe, ‘The Old Devonshire Church Fire Bermuda’, 2022. Courtesy of Staffordshire St. Photography: Ben Deakin.

Migration, Memory and Music: Bringing an archive of songs from Bengal to London:

Performance by Moushumi Bhowmik, with Oliver Weeks (guitar) and Ben Heartland (double bass)

21st October, 5 – 9 pm
MayDay Room, 88 Fleet Street EC4Y 1DH

‘Uncovering the Archive’ is thrilled to present Moushumi Bhowmik, a Calcutta (Kolkata)-based Bengali singer, composer and practice-led researcher who has been making and archiving field recordings from India, Bangladesh and London for over two decades. During this event Moushumi will talk about her archival practice and perform a selection of her songs rooted in Bengali folk and protest traditions. Her concert will be performed alongside longtime collaborators Ben Heartland and Oliver Weeks. 

Her main focus is on questions of home, homeland, borders and displacement and her main research methodology involves listening and telling/singing. She collaborates with artists, filmmakers and scholars across disciplines and continents. Moushumi is also a published author in English and Bengali. Her research, including the archive that comes out of her doctoral research, can be found at www.thetravellingarchive.org.

Moushumi is handing over a set of her/The Travelling Archive’s recordings relating to Bengali life in London and elsewhere in the UK, to help us study our histories of migration through sound. These include recordings made from 2006 in London and others made in and around London as well as in Kolkata/Calcutta for an exhibition held at Rich Mix in 2015 entitled The Travelling Archive in East London. Moushumi continues to make recordings of her friends in London every time she visits the city and copies of her recent work will be held at MayDay Rooms. 

While the event is open to all, participants between the ages of 18 – 25 will be given priority and are strongly encouraged to attend!

Book a free ticket here


25th October, 6 pm
MayDay Room, 88 Fleet Street EC4Y 1DH

Once open a time, radicals made homemade bulletins, posters, and newsheets to distribute in their communities, workplaces and on demonstrations. The processes underpinning the production and dissemination of these materials forged strong social bonds, relationships and solidified politics. What have we lost in an era where social media is the main means to disseminate political propaganda? Perhaps a return and reinvention of these forms is necessary at a time when public space in London has become heavily privatised and sanitised to mask the struggles which concern us all.

Radical print matter made visual and physical the chaos of political activity, making issues harder to ignore and creating opportunities for gathering. While social media can be effective in raising awareness and spreading information, it also reinforces the diffusion of communities, keeping us tethered to our devices and unused to direct political action. These are some of questions we hope to explore through this workshop.

Join Seth Wheeler and MayDay Rooms to discuss the history and utility of radical diy print media, and turn your hand to the production of some ‘rough and ready’ leaflets for your own campaigns! Materials and refreshments provided.

Book a free ticket here

Previous Workshops and Events

Introduction to Archives & Archiving⁣⁣
With Lola Olufemi

Monday 3rd October 2022, 5:30 – 7:30pm @ INIVA, 16 John Islip St, London SW1P 4JU⁣⁣

Getting to know participants with an introduction to MDR and Iniva as⁣⁣ well as tour of Iniva archive. Creative writing thinking workshop⁣⁣ facilitated by Lola Olufemi  on imaginative uses of the archive. The⁣⁣ workshop will close with an activity to collectively choose a name for⁣⁣ the group. 


Saturday 18th March, 2 – 4 pm  @ INIVA, 16 John Islip St London SW1P 4JU

Following from our successful pilot session with Lola Olufemi, we are back with Iniva to bring you another archival collaboration with the Bloom collective! These workshops are intended for young people (16-25) from marginalised backgrounds, i.e. Black, QTI/people of the majority, working class, migrant, Disabled.

We want to introduce the archive as a resource and archiving as a mode of storytelling available to, and representative of, the identities and lives of those normally excluded from history-making practices. By working with the collections held both at MDR and Iniva, the programme aims to offer young people with the tools to confidently explore, interrogate and create the stories they want to tell or wish were told through engaging activities that centre creative play, conversation and making. We recognise that archives are often spaces accessed by people with privilege – wealthy, higher educated, able-bodied, neurotypical, and so a core objective is to work to open up these spaces through prioritising access, inclusion and safety. This programme is facilitated by creative practitioners from marginalised backgrounds whose practices are informed by disruptive approaches to history telling and making!

This month join nature practitioners Ali and Idman from Bloom in a two hour workshop exploring the elements, senses and our relationships to the natural world. Through grounding practices, creative crafting, storytelling and collective reflection. They will be taking inspiration from MDR and Iniva archives to encourage participants to respond to the question – how can the land help us create a sense of belonging?

About the Bloom Collective:

The Bloom collective is an iteration of the Bloom 2020 / 2021 nature programme which was a series of online and in person events and workshops platforming the skills and expertise of Black women and femmes. Through sessions focusing on herbal remedies, natural dyeing, embodied movement practice, food justice, ancestral connection and play, Black and POC from London and beyond came together to connect with ourselves, each other and the natural world in community. Bloom is now an emergent black-led nature collective consisting of landworkers, artists, healers, community builders and dreamers based in London.



Saturday 15th April, 2 – 4 pm  @ INIVA, 16 John Islip St London SW1P 4JU 

In this session, we’ll craft pocket zines using material from MayDay Rooms and Iniva archives —from a sailor moon themed notebook to communist newspapers. Speaking to the experiences of our queer ancestors, our zines will touch on hidden radical histories and forms of peer support through storytelling. As zine-makers, we become fellow caretakers: exchanging tips, tools, tears and pain. As we document our experiences, we build soft weapons for political action.

Our zines become the stories of distant suns, our archives the tissues of solidarity. Following the session, attendees are invited to photocopy their creations and archive them in Mayday Rooms and Iniva, with the aim of crossing paths with, and becoming peers to future visitors.

JUNE BELLEBONO is a London-based writer, cultural producer and facilitator. They are the founder of oestrogeneration, a magazine platform highlighting transfeminine voices in the UK, and of Queer Good Grief, a peer support group by and for bereaved LGBTQ+ people. They have written for gal-dem, HUCK and Novara Media, and have organised events for Somerset House, Autograph ABP, QUEERCIRCLE and Museum of the Home. @junebellebabe

TAMARA HART is a visual anthropologist based in London. Their research adopts visual caretaking as a mode to explore identity formation and social remapping within mental health structures, with a focus on queer practices of care. They have written for various publications such as Frieze, Spike Magazine, Gruppe and Sleek Mag. They are currently a contributing editor for the LGBTQI+ artist support network and curatorial platform Queerdirect. @cyber_fem

Uncovering the Archive IV: An evening of films curated by The West Asian and North African Women’s Art Library

Thursday 27th July 7 pm @Reference Point

The West Asian and North African Women’s Art Library presents am evenings of films and talk as part of the “Uncovering the Archive”  youth programme. 

We will be screening 3 films by artists Zineb Sedira, Marwa Arwanios and Rojda Yavuz, facilitating a talk between Kaitlene Koranteng, Lamya Sadiq and Evar Hussayni as well as a display of archival material from all three libraries that visitors can interact with, all in relation to resistance movements and art practices originating from the West Asian and North African region. 

The films span from 2000 to 2023 and will take viewers through a journey of observation around the way political, historical and personal experiences can be portrayed and characterised through experimental filmmaking and video art, and how this contributes to forms of memory making and knowledge production. The talk will then use this as a point of departure to discuss how archives influence filmmaking practices and whether film itself can be considered an alternative form of archiving. There will also be discussions around what archives are and who is usually found within them. We will be asking questions such as: Can alternative forms of archiving, specifically via film, unfold and encourage a re-imagination or a re-memory? And how can archives/libraries and practitioners create new modes of respect and care in the circulation of documentation and political, historical and personal information?

The event is open to everyone though we highly encourage those aged 25 and under to attend!

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