‘Playspace 67-69’ Exhibition London, November-December 2023

Earlier this year, I resurfaced my photos of kids playing in North Kensington during the summers of 1967-1969. The Greater London Council had just demolished 700 houses across North Kensington to build the longest elevated motorway in Europe, and a child in South Kensington had 10 times more public open space than a child in North Kensington. (You can read more in the new Westway section of my website here.)

We opened 8 temporary playgrounds in the north in the summers of 1967-1969 when the need was critical. In the act of adding my photos from that time to my website, I fell in love with them all over again. (You can view the photo gallery here.)

The photos have come together in an exhibition running from 21st November – 21st December 2023 at 3 Thorpe Close.

General admission is free, and you can reserve a spot on the Eventbrite page below.

You can read more about the exhibition on the Westway Trust’s website, including the description of the event reposted below:

Launch of local photographer Adam Ritchie’s ‘Playspace 67-69’ exhibition

‘Playspace 67-69’ — an exhibition of photography by Adam Ritchie

About this event

This exhibition focuses on Adam’s photography documenting pioneering Summer Play Programmes that took place in North Kensington from 1967-69. Documenting intangible culture in this unique patch of London, it presents joyous, poetic and exuberant images of kids, freed to have fun, captured at sites of a Summer Play Programme that local people set up and ran on 12 sites with the help of 200 invited students, who were housed and fed in a disused school.

In experiencing these images, there is a bittersweet irony. This was the very era in which the cultural melting pot of North Kensington saw marginalised and minority groups support each other in resisting racism and many other forms of open prejudice and neglect. It was also simultaneously a hub for extreme creativity offering new social models.

This broader political landscape may not be manifest in many photos included in the exhibition, but it hovers like a spectre at the edges of all of the images. The groundbreaking Summer Play Programmes were partly a response to the harsh reality that many local parents could not afford to take time off work: summer school holidays were a childcare challenge. Thus, the exhibition is at once celebratory, but simultaneously a reminder of social realities experienced by economically excluded communities, perhaps all the more timely in our current landscape of a return of a cost of living crisis and erosion of social provision.