Hackney Museum to celebrate Black History Season with community-led exhibition

HGS 2019 Exhibition - copyright Hackney Museum 1

Hackney Council will launch its Black History Season celebrations with a powerful community-led exhibition at Hackney Museum, which explores the impact and influence of African and Caribbean hair and fashion through the eyes of local people.

The exhibition, titled “Hackney’s Got Style”, launches on 3 October and continues until 11 January. Developed in collaboration with the local community, it will celebrate and explore the lasting impact and influence that African and Caribbean hair and style have had, both on the borough and on British culture. 

As part of Black History Season, over 3,000 local school children will visit the exhibition throughout October and November to learn about the rich local history and find their own place within it.

One of the exhibition’s highlights will centre on the story of local entrepreneurs Len Dyke and Dudley Dryden, who overcame racial discrinimation and challenges to become the UK’s first African-heritage millionaires, after their hair care and cosmetics attracted customers worldwide.

After starting their business as a record stall in Ridley Road Market, they began selling cosmetics to the African and Caribbean community - setting up stores in Hackney, Tottenham and Birmingham, which also provided a meeting place for local community groups. The exhibition will explore the lasting impact that the duo had on Hackney and the black hair care industry. 

From the smartly tailored suits of the ‘Windrush’ generation, to the bold and brash looks of hip hop, Hackney’s African and Caribbean community have used style and hair to express personal and cultural identity. This exhibition will allow visitors to discover the significance behind changing fashions in the borough through displays, photographs and first-hand accounts. 

The exhibition will be held alongside an extensive programme of events in Hackney centred around the theme of African and Caribbean hair and fashion, which take place from October through to January. 

More information about Hackney's Black History Season celebrations can be found on our website and Black History Facebook page. 

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy
Hackney has a large African and Caribbean population, and this exhibition is a celebration of and how style and fashion was used to express their identity and culture. You can explore the impacts and influences this identity has had on contemporary culture in Hackney and how this style has influenced culture and expression across the rest of the UK and around the world. 


Hackney Museum celebrates Hackney's Black History Season with a fabulous collection of curated memories and images that will stir pride in your heart when you reflect on the profound changes our communities have triggered in society, and will bring a smile to your face when you remember the heady times of days gone by or you recognise your grandparents looking like you've never seen them before!

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy