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Online Exhibitions 'The Sounds of Croydon: From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy'

In this blog, we discuss the benefits of your organisation hosting its own online exhibition by taking a look at the case study The Sounds of Croydon: From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy.

This Stormzy portrait by Olivia Rose, 2016 has hung in the National Portrait Gallery

While society continues to contend with covid-19 and many cultural organisations remain offering a limited service, the Sounds of Croydon online exhibition will provide an inclusive space online, allowing underrepresented people to interact with the arts, being educated and inspired by Croydon’s musical past.

Launching on October 1st to mark the start of Black History Month in the UK, ‘The Sounds of Croydon: From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy’ led by Croydon resident and Head Curator Micha Nestor, will follow the journey of Croydon’s most influential musicians, celebrating the history of Croydon’s global influence on music over the last 120 years, from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy.

“The Music is Fresh and Original” Sir Arthur Sullivan

With heritage sites across the country continuing to struggle to close the gap when it comes to engaging underrepresented people (including the young, as well as black, asian and mixed race people) the Sounds of Croydon will showcase relatable images by local talent, including musicians and photographers; providing inspiration and guidance to those interested in getting involved with the arts.

By providing access to museum quality art - some of which has been exhibited in London’s National Portrait Gallery - Past Futures hopes that this engaging and contemporary exhibition will lead to greater participation in local history by underrepresented people, leading to a more inclusive historical narrative being curated for future generations.

Music has played a central role in Croydon’s identity, since the arrival of the Great Exhibition and the Crystal Palace Orchestra in 1856. Since then classical music composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, has left a mark on the world by writing one of the most successful songs of the late-Victorian era and even meeting President Roosevelt in the White House, during a time when segregation was still prevalent. The 2000s saw an explosion in Dubstep music, with Croydon based Producers Benga and Skream amongst many, paving the way for international DJ’s such as Skrillex to take this genre of music to the top of the charts. Finally we’ll follow the journey of Stormzy, from Thornton Heath schoolboy, to holding the country’s leaders accountable on stage at the Brits.

For the last twenty years especially, underrepresented people have asked for museums to produce content which reflects their lived experiences, veering away from the national curriculum’s standard diet of the Tudors and Romans. We have no doubt that the likes of Coleridge-Taylor and Stormzy will live within the mythology of Croydon’s local history for many years to come, with this exhibition going some way to educate viewers on the steps taken to create a musical legacy.

In just 15 minutes, explore and engage with the stories of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor the Victorian, mixed-race child prodigy from South Norwood and follow a night of Dubstep, as experienced at the Black Sheep’s monthly CroyDub events. Finish things off with insight into Stormzy’s latest Superheroes campaign.

View The Sounds of Croydon exclusively online at from 1st October - 31st December 2020.

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