Venue Directions: Riverside Studios, 101 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, W6 9BN.

For young Black people at the time, there were very few places to go. Full stop.

Dr Benjamin Zephaniah 

After hearing writer and musician Benjamin Zephaniah recall that Riverside Studios became a ‘home from home’ for young Black creatives in the 1980s, we researched that history in our archive. 

Having found a wealth of photographs capturing the variety of work made and presented by Black artists at Riverside, our Creative Associate Reuben Esson-Parkes has curated an exhibition featuring some of the most powerful, evocative and inspiring images.

From groundbreaking companies such as the Black Theatre Co-operative, Talawa and Dance Theatre of Harlem to legendary figures including Norman Beaton, Yvonne Brewster, Mona Hammond and Lenny Henry, this selection of photographs and posters convey the ambitions and achievements of Black theatre, dance and music practitioners working at Riverside Studios at that time.  

Black and Gifted is the first large-scale exhibition of material from Riverside Studios' own archive collection and has inspired a forthcoming programme of events.  

Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

I see young Black creatives with a desire to perform and be heard. Many saw their dreams come to fruition by having successful careers in the arts. Riverside Studios amplified their voices and gave them space and a platform to perform. I want to look back and celebrate this. 

Reuben Esson-Parkes