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Lost Legends

Lost Legends

Leicester is to mark thirty years of Black History Month with a unique exhibition capturing the cultural contribution that the African and African Caribbean communities have made to the UK.

This October Serendipity will bring to life the voices of Leicester’s African and African Caribbean pioneers through archival objects and previously hidden stories in Lost Legends, an engaging exhibition taking place at Newarke Houses Museum and Gardens.


This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Black History Month in the UK and Leicester based arts organisation, Serendipity is celebrating with Lost Legends. Acknowledging the cultural contribution of the African and African Caribbean communities to Leicester and the UK, Lost Legends explores the stories of local pioneers first-hand and reflects upon three decades of Black History Month through memories, memorabilia and archival research.

The Lost Legends exhibition brings to light hidden stories, achievements and trailblazers from Leicester’s African and African Caribbean communities, such as the story of Canadian boxer Larry Gains who lived in Leicester during the 1930s, the contribution of Ska pioneer Laurel Aitken, actor Josette Simons and musical sisters Peal Ricketts and Millie Munroe. The exhibition will showcase a wide range of unique memorabilia to view and investigate, the variety reflecting on cultural, social and political moments from the last thirty years and beyond. Powerful pieces of artwork, an insightful collection of vintage publications from Black writers, and programmes from events in Leicester featuring artists such as Billy Eckstein, Cy Grant and Joan Armatrading are just some of the objects on display.

The exhibition encourages people to question what Black History Month means to them; a Black British timeline links together events taking place in Leicester with milestones nationally and internationally; from Leicester’s first Black telephonist at the Leicester General Post Office to the first Black British MPs elected to Parliament in 1987. A copy of the Lost Legends Black British timeline can be found in the publication Lost Legends: 30 Years 30 Voices, which sits alongside the exhibition providing a personal perspective on Black History Month from artists and activists with a connection to Leicester. Copies of the publication will be available to purchase at the museum, and via Serendipity’s website.

Alongside the exhibition Lost Legends, funded by Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and Leicester City Council is a multifaceted project encompassing an interactive online media archive, featuring oral histories and archival footage, a publication and a short documentary film, accessible to exhibition visitors.

The Lost Legends exhibition is an opportunity for reminiscence and is certain to bring back some memories, but everyone is welcome to come and learn about Black British History and Leicester’s contribution, with groups and schools encouraged to get in touch with Serendipity to access additional available resources.

Pawlet Brookes, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Serendipity said: “Lost Legends has been a fantastic opportunity to record, collect and document the contribution African and African Caribbean artists and activists have made to the cultural landscape. It has become increasingly exciting as the project has evolved, from the discoveries that artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane performed in Leicester in the 1960s through to the unrecognised contributions that Leicester’s own artists have made. Lost Legends is an opportunity for people from across the region and the UK to learn more about Black British history and question what Black History Month means to them as they learn, reflect and respond to this exhibition.”

Lost Legends will be officially opened by Pauline Black, known for her work with the two-tone band The Selector on Thursday 28 September, and will be open to the public fromFriday 29 September until Tuesday 31 October at Newarke Houses Museum and Gardens.

This landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to reflect on era-defining moments from a Black British perspective. For more information visit SerendipityLost Legends website on www.lost-legends.serendipity-uk.com, email info@serendipity-uk.com or call 0116 257 7316.

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