Curating Imagine Islington

Roz Currie, Curator

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During 2015 and 2016 Islington Museum worked on an Arts Council England project, ‘Imagine Islington‘, exploring objects from the museum collection. Three different artists and six primary school classes were inspired by six objects from our collection. The exhibition brings together the six objects and the artworks they inspired, created by the class and artist.

The whole project was experimental and playful -exploring the objects in different ways. We wanted the exhibition to reflect this and included the cast of a pregnant tummy to stroke, body noises to listen to, acetates to look through and rain sticks to play.

The objects chosen by the artists are below, click on the links to see the artworks:

  • A Wooden Water Pipe -This 17th-century water pipe was made from the trunk of an elm tree. It was used to carry water, provided by the New River Company, bringing water initially to houses and businesses in the City of London, and later to Islington.

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  • Joe Orton Book Covers -Writer Joe Orton and his partner and mentor Kenneth Halliwell created ‘guerilla artwork’ using books from Islington Public Library Service. In 1962 they were each sentenced to six months in prison for causing ‘malicious damage’ to seventy two library books.
  • Objects found at 53 Cross Street -53 Cross Street, off Upper Street, was built in 1785.  The first owner was Thomas Vernon and many different people have since lived there. During the 1990s, Martin King moved in and started to explore the house, he collected the traces of those who had lived in the house before him and donated them to the museum.
  • WWI Embroidered Postcards -Leonard Mansfield sent silk embroidered postcards to his girlfriend, Margaret, from the trenches during the First World War. Silk cards were manufactured in France from 1900 onwards but became popular throughout the conflict as souvenirs for troops to send to family and friends.

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  • Gas-Air Machine -Dr Robert Minnitt developed his first Gas-Air apparatus in 1933 and this refined version in the 1940s which was used until the 1970s. He was known as ‘the man who killed the agony of child birth’, providing pain relief for mothers during labour.
  • UV Light-Therapy Goggles -In the early-20th Century rickets was a very common disorder among children. It was caused by a lack of vitamin D from food and sunlight. UV light therapy was used to treat children in the Finsbury Health Centre. Children would wear these goggles to protect their eyes.

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Autumn Under 5’s at Islington Museum

Under 5s workshops

  • Messy Play: a range of creative and messy crafts. Messy play is messy – bring a change of clothes! Under 5’s. £2 per child.

  •  Storytelling: join our interactive stories, explore historic objects and get creative! Under 5’s. £2 per child.

For more information please contact Rebecca Campbell-Gay at rebecca.campbell-gay@islington.gov.uk or 020 7527 2837

15th  September 2016, 10am-11.30am
Messy play: Golden Autumn
Come and explore autumn in all its glorious colours. Decorate our giant collage tree, create your own sculpture with leaves and twigs, and get cosy in our den!

29th September 2016, 10am-11.30am 
Storytelling: The Great Fire of London
Stories at 10am and 10.40am

London is burning! Come and find out what went wrong, build your own mini Tudor London with Lego and make a clay pot to take home.

13th October 2016, 10am-11.30 am
Messy play: African textiles
Travel to another continent and learn how fabric is made. Then create your own patterns using centuries’ old techniques like tie-dyeing and block printing.

27th October 2016, 10am-11.30 am
Storytelling: Fighting Fires
Stories at 10am and 10.40am
What does a day in the life of a firefighter looks like? Find out about these modern-day heroes who keep us safe as well as the animals that help them!

10th November 2016, 10am-11.30am
Messy play: Fire Fire!
Explore warm colours in our sensory containers, put out fake fires with glittery water, make your own fire engine to take home and much more!

24th November 2016, 10am-11.30am 
Storytelling: Bonfire Night
Stories at 10am and 10.40am
Bonfires, bright lights and fireworks, but what is the story behind Bonfire Night? Come and take part in our interactive story to find out about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.

8th December 2016, 10am-11.30 am
Messy play: Frosty Wonderland
Get warm in our winter wonderland: play in our sensory messy containers, make your own Christmas cards and print your own giant wintery wallpaper.

22nd December 2016, 10am-11.30 am
Storytelling: Decorating Christmas
Stories at 10am and 10.40am
It’s that time of the year again and we are celebrating it with stories and crafts. Expect lots of tinsel, sparkles and fun!

It’s Ours Whatever They Say

Roz Currie, Curator


Islington has less open space than any other London borough –its twelve adventure playgrounds are vital in providing a place for the children of Islington to play. This exhibition explores the story of the adventure playground movement in Islington. It was curated by Jordan James of Islington Play Association as part of the ‘PLAY, PAST, PRESENT AND IN PERPETUITY’ project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The exhibition includes banners made by the children of the playgrounds, archive photographs from the history of IPA, and a film reflecting the early story of the organisation.

There is also a den which all visitors to the museum have helped build, change and make their own…

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To find out more about Adventure Playgrounds in Islington please visit the IPA website or look on Islington Council’s website

A Sense of Place: tactile book

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In 2015/16 Islington Museum partnered with Morelands Children’s Centre on ‘A Sense of Place’, kindly funded by Islington Giving Supporting Families Programme and the Bunhill Councillors.

Over 5 day long workshops we worked with local families from the King’s Square Estate.

Working with artist Sarah Pimenta, families drew and then screen printed images from the past and present of the buildings and spaces that are important to them. Sarah combined the screen prints into a tactile cloth book. This beautiful art piece celebrates the creativity of our local families and the things that make our local area special to us.

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See if you can spot the buildings where we live, work and have fun in!

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There are some archival images within the book, reflecting how our area has changed over time. Can you spot the horse bus that would have taken us from Angel in the past?

Watch the slideshow below to see more of our pages.

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The History of Martin Luther King Playground

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By Jordan James

In 1968 an Adventure Playground opened for a summer play scheme on some derelict land. It was a 10 acre site surrounded by a high corrugated iron fence, completely empty and unused and there was at the time nowhere for the children to play. The Greater London Council (GLC) gave permission to the parents to use the land for a summer play scheme.

martin-luther-kingChristian Aid agreed to help fund the volunteers on the scheme on the condition that the funding was matched. One of the play workers, Anne Power, approached the Martin Luther King foundation which was giving out grants to fund community projects in multiracial areas in the county. The foundation agreed to give the playground a grant as long as it was named after Martin Luther King -it has remained that way ever since.

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MLK’s banner made for the 2016 exhibition

On the first day that they opened their gates, hundreds of children poured into Martin Luther King Playground and TV camera crews arrived to interview the mothers. By September 1968 the GLC agreed to a permanent playground on a corner of the large 10 acre site. They also announced plans to turn the rest of the site into “Paradise Park“.

The corner the Adventure Playground had been given had a derelict Woodbine Tobacco Factory on it. In the Spring of 1969, with the help of prisoners from Pentonville Prison, the Martin Luther King Association members and parents started to do up the playground.

The playground was the first project that the Foundation had supported and so they brought Coretta King, the widow of Martin Luther King, to visit. She, her sister-in-law and two of her children spent time at the playground with the mothers and children. The playground was also visited by Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

To find out more about Adventure Playgrounds in Islington please visit the IPA website or look on Islington Council’s website