March 1, 2023

Maha's Diary: All About Our Archive

Maha’s Diary – All About Our Archive


Maha is our new Heritage Participation trainee and is keeping an illustrated Heritage Blog of her time:


Greetings Oxford House friends,


My name is Maha Shami. I am an Artist and the Heritage Participation Trainee at Oxford House. My Oxford House Diary uses reportage illustration. Reportage is a type of visual documentation where an artist’s captures a moment in time. This is where I draw from life to document what is happening around me at Oxford House. Using a visual diary allows me to express my thoughts and emotions. I write to do lists and make sure I keep track of what needs to be done at work. I have a passion for storytelling, and I want to share that with you. Today’s post is about our magical Archive Night on the 21st of February.


Our Archivist Josie Sommer started off by sharing some fascinating objects from our Archive. There were newspaper clippings, photos of youth clubs and social activities, annual reviews and much more. The best part was learning that many of the people who visited us that night had themselves attended these clubs and remember these people and places. It feels so special to have local community members share their Oxford House memories with us. Many of objects could be interacted with, picked up, and looked at and that’s also wonderful.


Sarah Ainslie, whose current exhibition, Women of Bethnal Green At Work, talked and showed images of her practice through the years. Something that stood out to me was just how Sarah manages to build sincere relationships with the people in her community and how the work that follows feel extremely organic and authentic in its outcome. Sarah is brilliant!


We are planning to have plenty more activities, exhibitions and open days surrounding our archive and we hope you can come with us to find out more about Oxford House and the history of Bethnal Green!




This drawing of our Archive was made with Polychromos Faber- Castell pencils one morning. It was nice to draw an organized Archive coming together, thanks to Josie Sommer Archivist Extraordinaire.




Polychromos Pencils used for a quick sketch of the Archive Night talk with Sarah Ainslie.


This drawing of our Archive was made with Polychromos Faber- Castell pencils one morning.



Drawing of our project Archivist Josie when she was cataloguing our collection. Made with a posca pen in an afternoon, while telling Josie a long dumb joke about a jellybean who climbs a mountain.