An Evening with John Blanke

3Nov_An Evening with John Blanke

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The life of a black trumpeter in Tudor England

John Blanke, a black trumpeter to the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, is considered to be the first person of African descent in Britain for whom we have both an image and a written record. His image appears twice in the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll currently in the College of Arms collection. He is noted in the court's accounts of the day as having being paid wages, other records have him successfully petitioning Henry VIII for a wage increase and receiving a gift from the king.

This event explores and commemorates the life of John Blanke and showcases how the archival records have influenced the work of the project's artists, poets, and historians.

The John Blanke Project is a work in progress which celebrates the life of John Blanke through a variety of media and art forms – writing, drawing, poetry, and music.

Musician Lance Corporal Lawrence Narkhom of the Band of the Royal Army Corp will play trumpet fanfare.

Historian Michael Ohajuru devised and developed the John Blanke Project through commissioning works from visual and spoken word artists, writers, rappers and historians.

Randolph Matthews is a London-based singer songwriter and multi vocal instrumentalist.  His performances have been described by Jazz FM as ‘flawless and world class’ and span over two decades, bringing him international recognition and followers everywhere.

Miranda Kaufmann is a senior research fellow at the University of London's Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She has appeared on Sky News, the BBC and Al Jazeera, and she's written for the Times, Guardian and BBC History Magazine. Her recent book Black Tudors was widely acclaimed including a five-star review from the Telegraph.

Artist Holly Graham has exhibited widely and held a residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. She is a graduate of The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford and Chelsea College of Art and holds an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art.

Dave Neita is known as the ‘People's Lawyer’ and ‘People's Poet’ due to his representation of excluded individuals and marginalized groups and because of his grassroots treatment of social issues in his poetry.

Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson is an actor, teacher, facilitator and poet. His is the author of Mixed Messages and founder of The Cultural Chameleon Press, and The Cultural Chameleon Press Runs Lipped Ink – a poetry open mic slot session which explores the power of spoken words to engage, inspire and entertain.

Jamaican born sculptor George ‘Fowokan’  Kelly, is viewed as an icon and ‘Elder’ of the Black British arts movement. Examples of Fowokan’s work are held in many public and private art collections, including the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, Unilever and the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Artist Ebun Culwin is a Buddhist whose beliefs are fundamental to her artistic practice; transferring spiritual beliefs to form, light, colour and a visual language easily understood and inspiring to others.

Rohan Clarke’s largely autobiographical, surrealist drawings and work depict the artist’s story and the life of most Africans living in the diaspora. He has exhibited in London and New York.

Pheobe Boswell attended the Slade School of Art and Central St Martins, London. She has won several awards and residencies and has exhibited in Europe and America and is currently an artist-in-residence at Somerset House Studios in London.

Performer Valentine Ogunba is a London-based writer and rapper who specialises in interpreting the condition of urban black youth.

John Agard is a renowned and well-regarded Afro-Guyanese award-winning poet, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, playwright, and children's writer. His work is now a longstanding feature on the National Curriculum.


Name: An Evening with John Blanke
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546