Peckham portraits of black actors will be moved to new home, council says

News Desk (14 March, 2017)

Locals express concern after the much-loved portraits were taken down without warning

15651Peckham Hill Street portraits, photo by Ibrahim Kamara

A Peckham landmark of black actors’ portraits has been removed from its home in Peckham Hill Street and will be moved to a new home, Southwark Council has said.

Ibrahim Kamara, whose Dad owns a shop opposite the original location of the portraits, reported them missing on Monday.

Ibrahim expressed dismay that the “iconic” portraits had been taken down; to make way for the construction site of the Mountview Academy acting school.

Included in the portraits, taken by photographer Franklyn Rodgers, are: David Oyelowo MBE; Marsha Thomason; Wunmi Mosaku; Fraser James; Adjoa Andoh; and Rudolph Walker OBE.

After Ibrahim’s tweets received over 300,000 views on Twitter, a formal response was given by Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes.

“We have removed the stunning portraits from Peckham Hill Street for safekeeping while work begins on the new Mountview Theatre School, and following some damage caused by recent bad weather,” Cllr Williams said

“I’d like to reassure residents that we are working to secure a new home for them locally. Whilst we’re sad to see them move on from this site, we’re keen to unlock the opportunities the school will bring for local people.

“We’re confident that bringing Mountview to Peckham will give local people the chance to follow in the footsteps of the stars depicted in the portraits.”

Peckham-born Star Wars actor John Boyega joined the discussion on Twitter, saying “Phew great. Grew up with these glad they’re not gone.”

The now-vacant hoardings in Peckham Hill Street.

Ibrahim, 23, told the News: “I come from Deptford but my Dad’s shop is right opposite, so I see them every day.

“I don’t understand why they hadn’t already found a place to put them before they were moved. Why wasn’t there already a plan?

“I don’t think this is a good enough reason to move them, and I’m not sure there’s many other places in Peckham where they will get as much attention and be seen by as many people.”

While the council has said it has yet to confirm a new home for the portraits, Theatre Peckham near Peckham Road has told the News it will approach the council to offer its premises.

Venue manager Matt Noble told the News: “We will certainly put our hat in the ring. It would be awful for them to go to waste.

“We promote black actors, dancers and performers of all types.

“We would like to be able to give children that come here the same inspiration with these portraits that they felt when John Boyega visited us.”

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