A new sound work by the artist Ain Bailey, Atlantic Railton takes its name from Atlantic Road and Railton Road in Brixton, South London. Home to significant Black British intellectuals and activists including C.L.R James and Olive Morris, both locations were also the meeting points for various social movements and community groups including the Black Panthers, Brixton Black Women’s Group, and where the Brixton uprising took place in 1981. Bailey draws on these histories, weaving familial and personal relationships with different sites of community organising that were active between the early 1970s to the early 2000s; including Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association, Big Up and Lambeth Women’s Project.
The piece brings together a series of intimate conversations led by the artist’s collaborators Sharon Elliott, Claudette Parry, Ego Ahaiwe Sowinksi and Marc Thompson that sonically reflect on the memories, actions and relationships held in these sites of community care and resistance. The sound composition is a constellation of the collaborator’s voices, new field recordings from the sites referenced, archival sounds of protest and traditional steel-pan songs played by Matthew Phillip from Mangrove Steelband.
Atlantic Railton is a dedication to people and places that are no longer with us, tenderly evidencing the experiences of belonging and connection held in these spaces, which communities continue to feel the effects of today.
Ain Bailey & Imani Mason Jordan: Atlantic Railton: LIVE – In collaboration with interdisciplinary writer, artist, editor and independent curator Imani Mason Jordan (fka Robinson) Bailey will perform a live extension of Atlantic Railton followed by a DJ set from Rabz Lansiquot on the 10th of September at the Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Counterspace.
‘When thinking of activism and community organising, and in particular those spaces that are no longer with us, I am compelled to think about a number of organisations in Brixton that instilled in me a foundational and tender way of working with people. When thinking about my own sonic story in relation to these places, one particular memory is of the Rollocks Steel Band family rehearsing outside 5 Leeson Road, perhaps on their way to the Notting Hill Carnival. 5 Leeson Road was formerly a social centre for West Indian Senior Citizens, a part of Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association. My mother Bevolyn Bailey managed the luncheon club.’ – Ain Bailey, 2021
The Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association (BNCA) was established in Brixton in 1972. The organisation, led by Courtney Laws OD, OBE was committed to changing the black condition against a backdrop of racism and severe inequalities; providing services tailored to every aspect of the community from “the cradle to the grave”. From counselling and advice, employment training, liaising with the police, and family support to education and support for the West Indian Elderly and so much more. The BNCA was the largest Black voluntary organisation in Lambeth for 25 years changing thousands of lives and inspiring many more.
Big Up, was an HIV support and prevention organisation, which ran from 1994-2006. Set up, ran, and managed by Black gay men, Big Up aimed to provide culturally specific and appropriate advice, information and support to Black gay men infected and affected by the HIV crisis in the UK.
Lambeth Girl’s Project, later Lambeth Women’s Project (LWP) was located at 166a Stockwell Lane until eviction in 2012 and provided a variety of crucial services and maintained several significant partnerships for over 30 years (1979 – 2012). It was considered a lifeline to women in Lambeth, not just locally but also nationally.
Ain Bailey is a sound artist and DJ. She facilitates workshops considering the role of sound in the formation of identity. Exhibitions include: ‘The Range’ at Eastside Projects, Birmingham; ‘RE:Respite’ at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland, and ‘And We’ll Always Be A Disco In The Glow Of Love’, a solo show at Cubitt Gallery, London. Bailey was also commissioned by Supernormal/Jupiter festivals to create and perform a new composition, ‘Super JR’. In 2020, Bailey was commissioned by Radiophrenia Glasgow, a temporary art radio station, to create a new composition entitled ‘Ode To The N.H.S.’. Ongoing is a commission by Serpentine Projects, in which Bailey conducts sound workshops with LGBTI+ refugees and asylum seekers. In 2021, Bailey has her second solo show ‘Version’ at Wysing Arts Centre and has also been commissioned to create a sound work/performance for the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion.
Sharon Elliott is a retired trade union official. She worked for BECTU, the union for workers in broadcasting, film, theatre and the arts for 31 years, both as a negotiating official and, in the last ten years, as senior communications officer. Elliott considers it a privilege to serve workers in this essential industry with their campaigns for fairness and dignity at work. She has no doubt that her mother’s work at the Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association influenced her choice of working environment, she encouraged a social conscience in Elliott, together with action in support of others.
Claudette Parry Laws
Claudette Parry Laws is a creative writer and producer of an upcoming podcast series My Dad Mr Brixton. My Dad Mr Brixton is the untold story of Courtney Laws OD OBE, Director of the Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association from 1972 – 1996 and a leading figure in Black British community relations. Claudette has previously worked in advertising and publishing for 30 years at BBC Worldwide, Emap Advertising, National Magazines, Ministry of Sound, Associated Newspapers and The Independent.
Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski
Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski is an archivist and mixed media artist currently pursuing a PhD at Chelsea College of Arts (UAL / Tate Britain). Her doctoral research places much needed critical attention on Jamaican born sculptor Ronald Moody. She holds an MA in Archives and Record Management, International (UCL). She is a founding member of the Remembering Olive Collective 2.0. and the Afrofeminist Transatlantic Collaboration, which maps and archives the cultural resistance of Black feminist artists in the UK and the Twins Cities. She is currently archivist for the Rita Keegan Archive Project. Her practice aims to develop collective, collaborative, archival strategies and methodologies in relation to physical space, the environment, the public and the personal in relation to the African Diaspora.
South London born and bred, Marc Thompson is an activist, health promotion specialist, mentor, lover of all things film and hip hop. He has been living with HIV since 1986 and has been at the forefront of HIV activism, education, and prevention in the UK for 30 years. Marc is the co-director of The Love Tank CIC, a not-for-profit community interest community that promotes health and wellbeing of under-served communities through education, capacity building and research. He is also the co-founder of Prepster.info, a community-based intervention that aims to educate and agitate for PrEP access globally and he is the co-founder of Blackout UK, a movement dedicated to working with and building safe spaces for black gay men.
Thompson co-curates the digital archive ‘Black and Gay, Back in the Day’ documenting Black LGBT life in Britain since the 1970s and has recently been appointed an ambassador for Opening Doors London, the UK’s largest charity working to raise awareness and improve the lives of older LGBTQ+ people. His work has focused on Black and queer communities, sexual health and HIV with a particular interest in the intersection of race, sexuality and HIV.
Thompson has recently featured in the BBC2 series Saved by a Stranger and The Guardians Outspoken series.
Ain Bailey, Atlantic Railton, 2021 was commissioned by Serpentine Civic Projects for Listening to the City and was curated by Amal Khalaf, Elizabeth Graham, Layla Gatens and produced by Holly Shuttleworth.
Contributions from Sharon Elliott, Claudette Parry, Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Marc Thompson and Matthew Phillips, Mangrove Steel Band.
Sound commissions supported by L-Acoustics Creations, presented in L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound.
About Listening to the City
Listening to the City engages with a set of sonic landscapes from selected London neighbourhoods, paying attention to existing and lost spaces of gathering and belonging across the city. The programme was conceived and developed by Serpentine Education and Civic Projects for the Serpentine Pavilion 2021 designed by Counterspace.