WELCOME TO THE HERITAGE CORNER PROJECT:
Heritage Corner presents creative collaborations and public services on the historic African presence in Yorkshire.
walks, talks, creative workshops, research, performance and presentations -
we engage with top artists and cultural experts to offer diverse and inclusive public and educational projects.
PABLO FANQUE, THE KEY-STONE OF HERITAGE CORNER
The Leeds Northern Star... in 1838, announces a circus on Bank Street (near Boar Lane), with acrobat and wire-walker, Pablo Fanque, commencing the performances with "Wonderful Leaps". Also mentioned on the bill, of Batty's New Royal Olympic Arena, is a "Master Pablo Fanque".
Were they father and son? Were they related at all?
The long advertisement goes on to describe Master Pablo as "the youngest Performer in the World; whose precious talents have obtained for him the appellation of the Gem of Africa...". Everyone knows Africa has gems, human and mineral, but it is rare to hear such a positive description of an African in Britain. Pablo Fanque, senior, (1810-1871) was a trailblazer with surprising and unexpected twists in his life, like many other African narratives in Britain.
Born William Darby, in Norwich, the young orphan was mentored by enlightened innovators in the golden age of British circus. He was provided opportunities to gain career skills and earn support to stay at the top of his profession for many decades - through "patience and perseverence" as well as his "talent and industry". Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal became particularly popular in the north of Britain and ran for 30 years. Leeds would become his final resting place in 1871.
Songwriter John Lennon discovered an old Fanque bill-poster, in an antique shop, and decided to use the words creatively. The song Lennon composed, 'BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE', can be found on the Beatles' famous Sgt Pepper... album.
The African presence in Yorkshire goes back 2000 years, when African priests, soldiers, merchants and others operated in Roman York. Both Greece & Rome negotiated treaties with the Candaces (Queens) of mighty Nubia, Kush and Ethiopia - which were never conquered. Britain's more recent empirical untruths have left a toxic vail over Africa's amazing history and insurmountable contributions to today's British identity and economy.
It is quite fitting then that Pablo is buried on Leeds University's central campus - the most celebrated British born citizen of African descent in his lifetime. Pablo connects narratives of the African diaspora with Yorkshire in many ways; deserving of academic recognition, creative exploration and celebration. Welcome to Heritage Corner.
Bringing Pablo Fanque to life,
for Anglia TV, July 2018
We regularly deliver walks for universities, schools and groups
Ye olde news...
London, Leeds, Brighton, Huddersfield, York & Airton were great, but next up...
KIRKSTALL ABBEY, Oct 22nd as part of a Heritage Corner double bill: 'Oh, Susannah!' - 1pm & 'Meet the Crafts' - 2pm (see above)
LEEDS UNIVERSITY STUDENT'S UNION BHM, Oct 26th -12PM & 2PM PYRAMID THEATRE