Time and Talents
As revealed by the carved stone Arts & Crafts-style lettering on the 1907 façade above the doorway of 187 Bermondsey Street, this was a ‘Time and Talents Settlement’ building. Founded in 1887, the Time & Talents Association was a nationwide Anglican organisation that sought to use the spare time and skills of young ladies of the leisured middle-classes in the service of those less fortunate than themselves, such as factory workers. The first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1889 and two years later, there were 21 centres across the country, with over 1100 members.
In 1899, Time and Talents were offered the former tailor’s shop on Bermondsey Street (rumoured to be haunted), which became its headquarters. Here they ran ‘healthy recreation’ which included lessons in reading, writing and painting; as well as cookery classes, health lectures and ‘magic lantern’ evenings. They also ran a penny lending library and served cheap dinners three days a week. The Settlement building itself was in poor condition, so a loan was taken out for major building works and these were completed in 1908. Time and Talents remained there until 1962, and today, the building houses studios and residential flats.
In 1980, Time and Talents moved to The Old Mortuary in Rotherhithe, situated beside St Mary’s Gardens. Built in 1895 to replace another mortuary built just two years earlier, the architecture of the site includes a vaulted ceiling in Russell Hall, original doors, a lantern skylight and wood panelling in the chapel. It ceased to be used as a mortuary in 1965, and stood empty until 1980 when Time and Talents moved in, refurbished it and founded a community centre, which continues to run a programme of activities for local adults and children.
Hejira formed in 2010, with members Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne, Alex Reeve and Sam Beste setting up a studio called 'The House of Dreams' in South-East London. Their group name comes from the 1976 Joni Mitchell album, but is also an Arabic word meaning ‘migration away from danger towards a safer place’.
In 2013, Hejira released their debut album 'Prayer Before Birth' on Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records label, to critical acclaim. The Guardian described how the music “smoothly blends folk, jazz and classical techniques with a certain postrock attention to timbre and texture and a prog-ish virtuosity”. As well as performing, they launched a London club night under the banner Traum, which involves live sets by other acts and DJs. In 2015, Hejira released the 'Name Surname' EP, in collaboration with Floating Points.
The single 'I Don't Belong To Anyone', taken from their latest EP 'The Lima Limo Ceremony', draws on the bands experiences from their 2016 trip to Ethiopia. Somewhat of a homecoming for Rahel, the journey inspired the band to start their own label Lima Limo Records and heavily influenced the writing on their eagerly anticipated second album, set for release at the start of 2018.