The New Bloomsbury Set Review

November 2023 marks the end of The New Bloomsbury Set, a year-long Heritage Project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Over the past year Bloomsbury Festival has recruited 10 young trainees (aged 18 – 25) and worked with a number of venues, partners and organisations to learn about the history of Bloomsbury, the existence of the 1920s collective known as the Bloomsbury Group, and to explore the current communities and people who live in Bloomsbury in the 21st century. All with the aim to review and reshape the cultural, literary, architectural and heritage landscape of Bloomsbury through the viewpoint of Bloomsbury’s 21st century global majority, and the wider community,  and to reclaim the identity of the area for the current residents.

Some of the resulting productions from the project:

Silks Exhibition

Working in partnership with Kinetika and collaborative workshops with Holborn Community Association and Kings Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association six silk banner flags were created to tell the stories of the heritage and lives of local communities. Across a number of storytelling and creation workshops, plus two painting days, these banners were produced by community groups, trainees and professionals from Kinetika in preparation to be on display throughout the October festival.

These banners can still be viewed at Holborn Library on Theobald’s Road. You can see the banners and other elements of the project on display in Holborn Library and in this video.

New Bloomsbury Set Newspaper

Inspired by Virginia and Vanessa Stephen’s handwritten newspaper, ‘Hyde Park Gate News’ (1891-95), the New Bloomsbury Set trainees created the New Bloomsbury Set Newspaper to revisit Bloomsbury’s history and tell stories of their lives in contemporary Bloomsbury. Featuring articles, book reviews, Bloomsbury recommendations, and more.

A digital version of the Newspaper created can be seen here.

Writers of Colour Digital Book Club

A free monthly digital book club was created in connection to this project, dedicated to books written by writers of colour who represent the diverse communities found throughout Bloomsbury. Hosted by Tamera Heron, 6 books were selected and discussed by trainees and members of the public on a monthly basis, on occasion joined by authors.

Read more about the books selected here and don’t miss catching up on the Book Club Newsletters in our archive.

Bloomsbury Festival 2023 Events

Working with various partners and venues in connection to this project a number of events featured within the Bloomsbury Festival 2023 programme. Bringing the histories and communities of Bloomsbury to audiences. Whether it be through song and performance (If Walls Could Sing! A History of 49 Great Ormond Street), readings and discussions (Young Bloomsbury: A New Queer History), or even exploring the current area through the eyes of the next generation (Hidden Bloomsbury).

Overall, the New Bloomsbury Set Heritage Project has brought together young adults, communities, partners, and venues and created a new sense of the area and current representation of Bloomsbury. The New Bloomsbury Set would not have been possible without the various workshop and venue partners, community associations, or creatives who have contributed their time and experience to the project.

Bloomsbury Festival would like to thank all those involved including the 10 young trainees and all supporting organisations (with special acknowledgement to the National Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the overall project, partners including Camden Tour Guides Association, Camden Archives and Camden Libraries, Conway Hall, The Bedford Estates, and our Writers of Colour Digital Book Club sponsors Bishop & Sewell).

Photographs by Stuart Keegan, 2023

The New Bloomsbury Set Review