Situated in a poor yet cosmopolitan locale, the Whitechapel Gallery has always provided a platform for the international trends and radical ideas of local communities of artists and activists.
In the 1900s, the East End was the crucible for political ferment, artistic innovation and social change. While Bolshevik revolutionaries including Lenin and Trotsky were meeting in Whitechapel to discuss ideas that would affect the world, the Whitechapel Gallery presented exhibitions of art from Turkey, Iran, India and Morocco, displays of school children’s work and an exhibition about the effects of tuberculosis.
Over 650 children from across east London have worked alongside artists Meera Chauda, Sam Perry, Emma Smith, Daniel Wallis and historian Marion Try. They have explored personal, local and global histories through photographs, press cuttings, maps and stories drawn from the Whitechapel Gallery’s 100 year-old archive, as well as documents from their schools’ and local archives. These were brought to life in reenactments, walks, discussions and activities that forged links between past and present, weaving together fact and fiction. This exhibition brings together the stories that emerged and a website created with Bigland Green Primary School, including a timeline, scrapbooks and graphics conceived by the children themselves.