Art To See In London During Black History Month

Kyra Hanson
By Kyra Hanson Last edited 39 months ago
Art To See In London During Black History Month
Patricia Gordon a Project Research and Development Consultant. Photo: Jacob Bryan-Amaning

This month there are numerous exhibitions to see in London which celebrate Black History Month. The struggles, conflicts, achievements and contributions of black people are told through art, photography, sculpture, literature and more. Check out our highlights below.

60 Untold Stories

This exhibition presents black and white photographs of 60 Black Caribbean children who grew up during the 1960s and 70s, successfully passing through the British education system. It's a long-awaited and highly deserved Hall of Fame for the 60-75 year old professionals involved.

Subtle differences in background, pose and facial expression are apparent depending on which of the four photographers took the photo. Faces are captured with expressions of defiance, some with uncertainty, others smiling with the carefree confidence that comes with years of experience.

From academia and business to arts and culture, all changed the shape of British society and continue to inspire a younger generation. Each portrait is accompanied by a title chosen by the subject, though not all define themselves by their profession. One simply reads 'a Jamaican in London.'

Joan Anim-Addo, Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies (see photo below) is one of only 17 female black professors in the UK. Startling facts like this remind us that these great achievers have set benchmarks which we've yet to surpass as a society.

The portraits are brought to life by audio interviews so don't forget to take your smart phone along. Also see the accompanying documentary in full on the website.

This project is organised by The Friends of Marsha Phoenix and Goldsmiths Centre for Caribbean Studies. The Marsha Phoenix Memorial Trust is a housing project in Lewisham for young, single homeless women.

60 Untold Stories is on in The Professor Stuart Hall Building at Goldsmiths University until 30 October. Entry is free.

Linton Kwesi Johnson, Goldsmiths graduate and the only black poet to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series. Photo: Keri-Luke Campbell
Sherry Ann Dixon, director of Women on the Crossroads/ Mentor. Photo: Jacob Bryan-Amaning
Joan Anim-Addo, one of only 17 black female professors in the UK and director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies at Goldsmiths. Photo: Carlton Bryan
Russell Profit MBE, educator and champion of equality rights and president of Goldsmiths Student Union 1968-69 Photo: George Walfall

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

1:54 is an opportunity to discover some of the best contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora. With 38 exhibitors representing over 150 artists, we reckon you'll need to allocate at least a full day's worth of browsing. Whether you're into sculpture, painting, photography, video or installation your tastes will be catered for. And you can hear talks from leading voices on African art.

1:54 takes place at Somerset House 15-18 October. Day tickets are £15+bf, four day tickets are £30+bf, concessions available.

Kara Walker

American artist Kara Walker will fill the walls of Victoria Miro Gallery with mixed media pieces exploring issues of colonialism, slavery and oppression using historical and literary sources. Atlanta and specifically Stone Mountain — the spiritual home of the Klu Klux Klan, and where Walker spent her teenage years — is the inspiration behind the centrepiece of the exhibition. Walker simultaneously works within and against the art forms associated with 'low' art styles: folk art, graffiti and primitivism.

Kara Walker: Go to Hell or Atlanta is on at Victoria Miro Gallery until 7 November. Entry is free.

Rock Against Racism

Rock Against Racism book, published by Autograph ABP. Published October 2015

Syd Shelton's dynamic black and white photographs document a tumultuous period in British history as clashes arose due to race, class and gender divisions. Between 1976 and 1981, the movement Rock Against Racism united youth against racism and fascist ideologies through punk and reggae music. See Shelton's snaps of pivotal moments including the 1978 RAR carnival at Victoria Park and the 1977 Anti National Front rally in Lewisham.

Rock Against Racism is on at Autograph ABP, Rivington Place until 5 December. Entry is free.

No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990

The focus here is on artwork created by Black British artists during a period when they faced intense and violent hostility. Alongside the politically charged work we particularly enjoyed the colourful paintings of Denzil Forrester. Get a flavour of the art on display in our review.

No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 is on at Guildhall Art Gallery until 24 January 2016. Entry is free.

West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song

West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song takes us right back to the Middle Ages when stories were passed orally from generation to generation through speech and symbol. Centuries-old literature, artwork, textiles and sound recordings trace the creativity, politics and religious beliefs of the diverse communities that made up the region's 17 nations. The exhibition also celebrates contemporary African authors and activists.

West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song is on at the British Library 16 October-16 February. Entry is £10, concessions available.

See also:

Last Updated 07 October 2015