The Black British experience is explored on many levels by this selection from the London Metropolitan Archives. Covering issues such as identify, struggle and broader culture, the work is varied, and incorporates many platforms of expression and creative tools. Its ‘No Colour Bar’ banner underpinning the work of all of these British-centred artists, but also a slogan embracing the international movement against racial struggle.
Among the exhibits, Frank Bowling’s acrylic on canvas waterfall Kaieteurtoo (2000) is an abstract expressionist depiction of a waterfall in Guyana where the artist was born. Bowling was educated in Britain and went on to become the first Black British artist to be admitted to the Royal Academy in its 200 year history. The subdued, pastel-like colours in this work from his Poured Paintings series a standout feature here and a running theme in that series. The Poured Paintings series was also exhibited at Tate Britain in 2013.
Toussaint L’Ouverture by Tanzanian-born artist and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire, Lubaina Himid is a mixed media, paint on board representation of the Haitian revolutionary leader. Her expressive, intriguingly disjointed work has a collage-feel with L’Ouverture cutting a noble and uniquely post-modern figure.
Emmanuelle Taiwo Jegede uses vibrant Yoruba imagery in his watercolour on paper The Unrealised Dream. This rarely exhibited painting is a gem of expressionist imagery with multi-layered symbolism seemingly emanating from the unconscious. The figures are at once dreamlike and alive but seem to swim in a mystical soup of cultural vibrancy.
The exhibition that began in July 2015 will run until January 2016 at The Guildhall Art Gallery. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12noon-4pm.