Celebrations begin for Norfolk Black History Month

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 September 2012

Norfolk based artist, Danny Keen, with his exhibition at the Anteros Arts Foundation. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norfolk based artist, Danny Keen, with his exhibition at the Anteros Arts Foundation. Picture: Denise Bradley


African and Caribbean heritage is being celebrated in a month-long festival packed full of music, dancing, storytelling, lectures and more.

Artist shares his passion for painting and jazz

Norfolk-based painter Danny Keen, who came to the UK from Jamaica in 1952 as one of the “Windrush generation,” is staging a special exhibition of his work and a series of music events for Black History Month.

His show at Anteros Arts Foundation, in Fye Bridge Street, Norwich, looks at his psychedelic paintings from his time at art school in the 1960s and work inspired by the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics, and then fast forwards four decades to when - after a career in catering - he picked up a paintbrush once more and began painting portraits, including many portraits of people with Caribbean roots like himself. Among the people featured in his exhibition are war hero Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in Iraq, businessman Tim Campbell, who won the The Apprentice in 2005 and was made an MBE for services to enterprise culture, and science communicator and rapper Jon Chase, as well as Big Issue founder John Bird.

Mr Keen, who lives in Gresham and is a jazz and blues pianist, also plans to use his exhibition as a backdrop for a series of jazz concerts taking place each Friday throughout Black History Month.

Mr Keen, 64, said: “It is a great privilege to be able to share my 40-year artistic journey and my love of music with the people of Norwich and Norfolk.”

His concert series begins on Friday with Blonde on Black, when Chrissy D will present an evening’s entertainment dedicated to her black heroines of song. On October 12 It’s a Gas! Gas! Gas! will feature musician Graham Dee who formed rock and soul band The Gas in the early 1960s. On October 19 Sojourn in Rhythm will see calypsonian and percussionist Caspar James relive his years travelling in the Caribbean, and on October 26 all jazz musicians are welcome to join in with the Black History Month All Star Jam Session – Bring it and Jam It!

Each concert starts at 8pm. Tickets cost £12 and can be bought from Anteros or by calling 01603 766129.

Mr Keen’s free exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm until November 3.

More than 100 special events for people of all ages are taking place across Norwich and Norfolk for Black History Month which kicks off this weekend.

Its aim is to celebrate the contributions black people past and present have made to the world, help promote diversity and challenge prejudice.

The array of activities on offer during October ranges from storytelling and crafts for children, to talks about subjects relating to black history, music and theatre, to the chance to listen to African and Caribbean beats.

Abraham Eshetu, chairman of the Norfolk Black History Month steering group, said he hoped everyone would get involved.

A painting by Danny Keen on exhibition at the Anteros Arts Foundation. Johnson Beharry VC. Picture: Denise BradleyA painting by Danny Keen on exhibition at the Anteros Arts Foundation. Johnson Beharry VC. Picture: Denise Bradley

“This is the ninth year of Norfolk Black History Month and the biggest yet,” he said.

“This year we have organised different events catering for all ages with our intention to make Black History Month accessible and relevant to all. I urge everyone to come and celebrate Black History Month.”

He said Norfolk Black History Month’s 2012 programme offered a balance of entertainment, education and information, and it brought a different dimension to Norfolk’s cultural landscape.

“It is all about bringing people together,” he said.

“It is about learning, it is about discovering, it is about sharing. Let’s discover, enjoy, learn, remember and inspire each other.”

Among the first events in Norfolk Black History Month is a free Family Festival at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich tomorrow.

From 2pm until 5pm, people can enjoy an afternoon packed with demonstrations and creative activities for the whole family and take part in a gallery trail around the centre’s world art collections.

In the evening, Afro-Cuban rhythms will fill the centre as it welcomes Future Radio’s World Cultures show, and there will also be a chance to take part in a salsa workshop with José Ferrera, or try contemporary African dance with Glennis Masuku.

Also tomorrow, a Football Unites, Racism Divides five-a-side football tournament involving teams from across Norfolk will take place from 10am at the UEA Sportspark, and the tournament champions will be crowned in a ceremony at 5pm at the Sainsbury Centre as part of the Family Festival celebrations.

Some of the other Black History Month events coming up:

• The Black History Month market at Norwich’s Castle Mall is bringing the sounds, flavours and colours of East and North Africa and the Caribbean to the city from October 8 to 21 each day from 10am until 4pm.

• From October 1 to 14 the Millennium Library, in Norwich, is hosting Containing Multitudes, an exhibition of a collection of letters written by Sarah Hicks Williams, a young, white, middle-class woman who left her New York state to marry a slaveholder, and which reveal a vivid snapshot of 19th-century American slavery.

The exhibition is open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and it will also be accompanied by a series of lectures.

• Children can take part in free African stories and craft sessions at many Norfolk libraries including: Taverham Library on October 20 from 10.30am to 11.30pm, Mile Cross Library on October 30 from 2.30pm to 3.30pm, Hellesdon Library from 10.30am to 11.30am, and Blofield Library from 3pm until 4pm.

• From October 16 to 20 Norwich Theatre Royal is hosting the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Julius Caesar which transports the play to modern day Africa. Tickets cost £5 to £25. To book call 01603 630000 or visit

• On October 18 at 8.30pm Cinema City is showing The Harder They Come, a film about a young Jamaican man with dreams of becoming a successful Reggae singer.

• Norfolk Black History Month runs throughout October. For more details about the celebrations and specific events visit

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