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come back mother: Buchi Emecheta

My father told me very, very early in my life that why my third Ibo name is Nnenna –father’s mother, was because I am his comeback mother. It was said that when my father’s mother was dying, she had promised my father that she would come again, this time as his daughter.

-Buchi Emecheta, date unknown, from archive document

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Comeback mother: Buchi Emecheta was an archive show in fragments that unfolded in parts throughout its durational install, running from 5th – 19th April, 2018. The show centred on Buchi Emecheta’s personal archive: books, manuscripts, plays, personal letters, publishers letters, notebooks, ephemera, essays, newspapers and unpublished material. Elements were shown in both the Kingsway exhibition space and the Library at Goldsmiths.

Buchi Emecheta was a powerful and complex Nigerian British writer, teacher, mother, library worker and feminist. She wrote prolifically and defied easy categorization. She is loved by many: Womanists read her fierce motherhood and solidarity. Feminists, her bold representation of the personal political. Queer readers have picked up on her strong community making. She is proudly held up as a writer of both Nigerian and Black British identity and has inspired many contemporary postcolonial writers. She spent her life demonstrating how she is many things. The tensions, refusals and stands shoot through her novels, plays and critical writing.

At the ‘mid-way reception’ we invited author, Irenosen Okojie to read from her collection ‘Speak Gigantular’. Angelique Golding (MA Black British Writing) read from Buchi Emecheta’s ‘Head Above Water’ and we were very pleased to have Sylvester Onwordi with us to say a few words about the Buchi Emecheta archive. Sylvester’s photographs of the reception are featured on the Buchi Emecheta Foundation website.

We have many of Buchi Emecheta’s books in the library. If you’ve not read her yet, ‘Joys of Motherhood’ is an excellent place to begin. I’d also recommend ‘Head above Water’ and ‘In the Ditch’. Many of her titles will be re-published with Omenala Press. To support the exhibition we curated a reading list and book display at the front of the library. One of the important things looking at Buchi Emecheta’s work was to acknowledge contemporary writing and storytelling that has come before, around and after her.

You are welcome to access our reading list.

come back mother: Buchi Emecheta was co-organised by Halima Haruna and Jessa Mockridge in collaboration with Buchi Emecheta Foundation, Goldsmiths Library and supported by Goldsmiths Alumni & Friends Fund. With a very big thanks for all kinds of shaping, support and care from Sylvester Onwordi, Nadine Plummer, Angelique Golding, Althea Greenan and Laura Elliott.

– Jessa Mockridge

Up close and personal with an exhibition:

As a history student, I have always been fascinated by exhibitions. Learning about the topic of the exhibition is quite remarkable. When I was asked to help with one at my placement, I jumped at the chance.

The exhibition I helped for was on the Balkans. Preparation for it took up two of my daysexhibition_1.png at the placement. Firstly, I had to do a bit of research on the Balkans. If I did not know anything about the Balkans, how was I supposed to find sources for the exhibition? Once that was all sorted out, I looked through the special collections and library catalogues to find sources. In order to keep track of the sources I found, I made a table. These tasks marked my first day working on the exhibition. The next day was a lot more varied. I was moving around, which was a nice change from having my fingers glued to the keyboard. I had to physically collect the sources; most of which were luckily in Special collections. The exception were 2 vinyls from the vinyl collection in the library. I spent about an hour trying to find the vinyl collection, only to find one was not available. I actually checked their availability on the catalogue before I went, just in case anyone was wondering. This part was right up my street: I had to analyse the sources to see if they were suitable. I kept most of the sources, apart from a few books and letters. The letters were very difficult to decipher — rich coming from me with my handwriting. When I eventually did decipher them, I found them to be irrelevant. Was it a waste of time deciphering them in the first place? Maybe, but if the source turned out to be detrimental to the exhibition, I would have slated myself for being so lazy.

exhibition_2Setting up the exhibition was the highlight of my day. It was a lot harder than I first anticipated. Getting the books to stay on the pages I wanted them to required a lot of DIY on my behalf. I eventually figured out the solution: making a stand out of foam blocks, binding together the blocks and book and then taping them together. I was pretty impressed with my efforts. They were not on the same level as many other exhibitions I have been to, but ju st being able to help with an exhibition was so enjoyable. I tried my best to present the items in an organised and creative way. The images of Balkans dancers were my favourite source. The women resembled dolls and I could hear the instruments, probably because I listened to Balkans music the day before. The other sources used were books on Balkans textiles, a CD and the vinyls mentioned earlier.

If asked to help at an exhibition again, I definitely would. It teaches you a lot about how to be selective and creative. When you see the joy the exhibition brings to people, it makes all of the work that goes into it 100% worth it.

 

This blog was written by Danielle, a history at work student, who completed her placement at Goldsmiths Special Collections.

 

Libraries Week, October 2017

Libraries Week: 9-14 October, 2017

Libraries Week brings together a UK wide network of libraries from all sectors to showcase the diversity of activities and services on offer. Goldsmiths Library is planning an exciting and varied programme of events.

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Special Collections and Archives Open House

10th October : 10am – 5pm

Discover and handle material from our collections, including archives, artist books and documentation, textiles, rare books, scores and ephemera. Open to all, drop in.

Location: Special Collections & Archives reading room (Goldsmiths Library, Rutherford Building, Lewisham Way, New Cross)


An Interactive Fairytale Adventure for Under 5’s and their Carers. 

11th October : 2.15pm, Deptford Lounge

A special collaboration between Goldsmiths Library and Deptford Lounge

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Join Becky, her cello and her ukulele, on her travels through a fairytale land, inspired by the School Practice Collection in Goldsmiths Library. We’ll be going on an interactive fairytale adventure, bringing storybook characters to life with songs and live instrumental music.

Location: Deptford Lounge 9 Giffin St, Deptford SE8 4RJ


File Under Female (Exhibition and publication) 

12 October – 3 November

Part of the culmination of artist Bella Milroy’s residency at the Women’s Art Library.

Open to all, drop in.

Location: Kingsway Corridor, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, New Cross.


Opening reception for artist Bella Milroy’s exhibition File Under Female.

14 October: 1pm – 5pm

Open to all, drop in.

Location: Room 142, Richard Hoggart Building and Kingsway Corridor, Goldsmiths, New Cross.


Communing, collapsing, collaging, continuing… An introduction to book art
13th October: 6 – 8pm
Workshop run by artist, Sarah Kelley

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How does a book move from one life toward another? In this workshop you can explore the book as an artistic ally and look at how we might receive from them without necessarily needing to read them. We’ll go on to find some inspiration in order to communicate back – using a variety of simple collage and book alteration techniques. You’ll leave with some new ideas and a piece of book art in progress, to continue and develop in your own time.

Please book through Facebook to attend or email a.sinclair@gold.ac.uk


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