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

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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