UNSHACKLING BEAUTY: Friday 31 May 2019

Join us for a special evening showcase of original music in response to the George Padmore Institute’s archival collections by two musicians in residence - Hadiru Mahdi and Nadeem din Gabisi. Two of London’s most exciting wordsmiths- Mahdi frequently performs as Brother Portrait and din Gabisi performs under his own name, alongside his visual artwork; they are both part of the award-winning jazz influenced Steam Down Collective. 

The event takes its title from a song lyric written as part of the residency. It’s a phrase lifted from a document in one of the GPI’s core archival collections - Papers from the Cultural Congress of Havana. The 1968 Cultural Congress of Havana was a landmark congress bringing together over 400 intellectuals, artists, activists and more from over 70 countries to discuss issues facing Africa, Asia and the Americas. 

Since last summer, artists Hadiru Mahdi and Nadeem din Gabisi have been musicians in residence at the George Padmore Institute, a radical black archive hosting collections documenting global grassroots political and cultural movements from the 1960s onwards. The artists chose to focus on the Cultural Congress of Havana, Creation for Liberation and Negro Theatre Workshop collections. 


Here, they share their thoughts on their time at the GPI.

Hadiru: ‘The residency gave us the space to reflect on a legacy of artists and activists working together across state lines towards a common goal. The Cuban file was particularly inspiring - just to reflect on all the delegates from different backgrounds and countries coming together. Unshackling is a reference to the fact that we all have the potential to enact change, to make and do’

Nadeem: ‘We had a desire to understand what historically had brought about mass movements, and how culture had played a part in that, we were specifically interested in the revolutionary potential of culture’

This DIY ethos is integral to cultural and political collections housed at the archives.

‘Going back into the archives and activating them, has a particular power in continuing the legacy and work of people that have come before us’, reflected Hadiru. ‘Not thinking we are the start and seeing the lengths and depths that people went to create change was so inspiring.’

Hadiru and Nadeem, along with their band - Momoko Gill on drums, Mark Mollison on guitar and Lorenz Okello-Osengor on keys/synth - will take us on a sonic journey of stories, history and collectivism. They'll be joined by special guests for rich intergenerational dialogue.


Date: Friday 31 May


​Tickets: £12  Tel: 0207 437 1894 / GPI: 0207 272 8915

Time: 7.00pm

Venue:The House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek Street, W1D 4NQ

​We look forward to seeing you there for this world premiere!