The South London Black Music Archive

Project description

The exhibition ‘South London Black Music Archive’ by artist Barby Asante was a commission by Peckham Platform which aimed to celebrate, preserve and investigate South Londoners’ personal relationships with moments in black music history. The resulting exhibition at Peckham Platform saw the gallery transformed into an ‘open archive’, mapping objects which represent and explore the personal stories behind the influence and evolution of black music in South London. Welcoming contributions from the public, this archive included items such as concert tickets, posters and stories. As part of the South London Black Music Archive a special map has been produced as a limited edition print. Compiled from the artist’s conversations with friends, family, musicians and music fans, the map acted as a growing record of black music landmarks in South London from venues and record shops to street corners and radio stations.

How was the project innovative?

The project was a unique co-commissioning process with community group Leaders of Tomorrow to appoint artist Barby Asante. The resulting exhibition was an open invitation for the public to contribute to the collection about collecting and sharing stories and creating a space for interaction and dialogue. The collection is still in existence as a record and is property of the artist who can be contacted via Peckham Platform.

How is the project linked to the theme of 20th century European memory?

One of the founding items of the South London Black Music Archive was be a ‘limited edition’ vinyl specially produced for the project as a result of the artist’s collaboration with young people from the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) mentoring programme. This artwork was created in association with Regeneration & Community Partnerships, Tate Modern with an exclusive record sleeve by graphic design collective Åbäke.  Copies are available from It featured Asante’s own take on the BBC’s ‘inheritance tracks’ for which members of LOT were asked to contribute songs that inspire them. Songs chosen include tracks by Adele, Michael Jackson, Edvard Grieg, Nigerian singer Prince Nico Mbarga, Bob Dylan and Lauryn Hill which will be represented as a soundscape alongside recordings of the young people telling the stories and explaining their selections.
Barby Asante said: “The influence of black music on the development on popular music is often overlooked. Black music has also played a significant role in the development of British culture from the 1950's and this is a great opportunity to provide a platform for people to consider the significance of this cultural activity on their lives.”
LOT member Mayowa Sofekun said of a track she has contributed to the project: “I have chosen Sweet Mother as my inheritance track as it is associated with some of my oldest memories as a child. When the song is played at all occasions whether it be a party, wedding, or even a funeral, everybody, both young and old will get up to dance and thank their mothers.“

Further information

Peckham Space:


Peckham Space
Emily Druiff