Autumn History Highlights In London 2006

| 30 August 2006
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photo shows man painting a statue of durga

A Bengali craftsman paints a statue of Durga for the annual Durga Puja. The British Museum's Durga is slowly evolving through September: at the moment it is still at the adding a clay skin to the straw stage. Courtesy of the British Museum.

With the heatwaves of July now a memory, we look ahead to some of the highlight history events across London for the rest of 2006.

Our picks range from vibrant celebrations of Asian and Middle Eastern culture, to events that mark the anniversaries of some of the major political clashes of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries.

1. The British Museum is running a season of events around the history of Bengal, embracing both Indian and Bangladeshi culture. There are displays on the storytelling culture of Bengal, and an exhibition of work by the poet and artist Rabindranath Tagore. But the highlight is the creation of an elaborate statue of the goddess Durga in the Great Court at the centre of the British Museum.

When untoldLondon passed the other day, the surprisingly fluid straw figures had taken shape, and a clay 'skin' was being added. Gradually clay and paint will be added to create a highly elaborate statue like the one shown here. Visitors can watch the process throughout September. In October, after Durga Puja (worship) has been carried out at the Camden Centre, the figure of Durga will be immersed in the Thames, in line with Hindu tradition.

Search Bengali events at the British Museum

photo shows crystal ewer with carved designs

A rock crystal ewer made c.1000-50 for the treasury of the Fatimid Caliphs of Egypt. Courtesy of the V&A

2. On 9th and 10th September the V&A will be hosting the last of its Middle Eastern weekends to celebrate the reopening of the Jameel Gallery. Poetry, Picnics and Persian Pastimes looks at Iranian culture, from perfume making and costume, to serious talks and tours. The weekend offers something for adults and children, and brings to life the cultures represented in the new gallery. There's a strong emphasis on food - with a chance to both picnic outside or (if it's raining) sample Iranian cuisine in the museum cafe.

photo shows red plaque marking site of battle of cable street

The plaque in Cable Street marking the scene of the battle.

3. This autumn marks seventy years since the Battle of Cable Street. It was the moment when Oswald Moseley's Fascist blackshirts attempted to march through the multicultural East End. Although escorted by the police, they were turned back by an anti-fascist crowd - a mixture of Irish, Jewish, Black and working class locals as well as others who travelled from as far as Birmingham and Manchester to stand against the fascists. Events marking the occasion include walks by the Jewish East End Celebration Society. There will also be commemorative events, street theatre and celebrations in front of the Cable St mural on October 8th.

photo shows man sitting next to self portrait and paint pots

An Ecuadorian artist - one of the voices in the Museum of London's Belonging exhibition. Courtesy of the Museum of London.

4. London is home to many parallel cultures that can sometimes co-exist whilst hardly noticing each other. The Museum of London's ambitious new Belonging exhibition brings some of these experiences together in a groundbreaking exhibition. Looking specifically at the stories of refugees coming to London, it combines interviews, objects and art from 15 communities and every continent. You can also hear some of the museum's earliest oral history recordings from the late 19th century. Events around the exhibition range from a serious discussions of the myths and politics of refugee status, to performance events like the Peruvian Scissor Dance

photo shows crowds waving flags in Hungary

A scene from Hungary in 1956. Courtesy of the Hungarian Cultural Centre.

5. 2006 also marks 50 years since the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union. The revolution failed, and many Hungarian revolutionaries fled the country, with many arriving in London. The Hungarian Cultural Centre is running a series of concerts, talks and films to mark the anniversary. Watch this site as later in the autumn journalist Mátyás Sárközi takes us on a virtual tour of Hungarian London.

photo shows us flag

Courtesy of the National Army Museum

6. In December you can go back in time a further 200 years as the National Army Museum follows the progress of the Christmas revolution of the Americans against the British in 1776. The news in New York is that the revolutionaries are doomed to lose - find out what really happens in a series of events played out over a weekend.

7.Black History Month in October continues to grow, with walks, talks, films and major exhibitions across London. We'll be looking at some of the highlights by area, picking out some of the most interesting events near you. Watch this space.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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