Whilst flicking TV channels, looking for updates of Olympic events I missed overnight, I was fortunate to come across news of a very interesting exhibition in South Africa. The first ever photography exhibition of Unequal Scenes was held on August 10th, at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg. This is the first time these images were displayed in a large-scale format. The aim of the selection of photographs is to promote conversation around the work and the issues they portray.
Artist John Miller’s desire is to portray the most unequal scenes in South Africa as objectively as possible, providing a new perspective on an old problem. He hopes to provoke a dialogue which can begin to address the issues of inequality and disenfranchisement in a constructive and peaceful way.
I’m also encouraged to hear this show may tour internationally. Hopefully I will get to see it. It would be very interesting to see how this project could be applied to other cities around the world to expose the contrast between rich and poor. It would be very interesting to see how Rio measures after its hosting of the Olympics.
I’m pleased to see the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, London has some interesting shows in its calendar. One worth seeing is Rastafari In Motion.
Co-curated in partnership with the Rastafari Regal Livity (RRL), Rastafari in Motion tells the rarely told story of the presence of Emperor Haile Selassie I and the emergence of the Rastafari movement in Britain. This exhibition introduces the mystic world of Rastafari and the guiding principles of this holistic way of life and takes a closer look at the contributions made to British society. Celebrate the 80th anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s appearance before the League of Nations, His four-year residency in Bath and His influence on the rising consciousness of Black youth from the 1960s onwards.
Find out about the exploits of Ras Seymour Maclean ‘The Book Liberator’, and explore the movement’s expression through music, art, spirituality, education, and the rise of political agency; and their lasting legacy here in Britain.
Black Cultural Archives is the first to present Rastafari in Motion to UK audiences. First exhibited at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa in 2014, as part of an international collection (Rastafari: The Majesty and the Movement), this celebrated exhibition has travelled to Jamaica in April 2016, and will arrive at Black Cultural Archives this summer.
The world is reminding us of how fragile modern society is. I’m becoming frightened to switch on the TV, read the paper or catch up on tweets in case I hear of another modern day lynching of innocent African Americans, terrorist atrocities or corrupt and untrustworthy politicians fighting off party political and military coups. In previous blogs I’ve paid reference to forthcoming projects I wish to share. I’m not quite there yet but it’s timely to address some of the above issues as they feature strongly in the material I’m working on. Please watch this space and more importantly, look after yourself and each other.
“We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate.”
The last couple of weeks has been very very interesting on both a political and personal front. The UK’s EU Referendum has taken place, political party leaders have either resigned, been stabbed in the back or just clinging on to power whilst the markets deal with uncertainty regarding the country’s future. As a consequence of the ‘surprise’ vote, American friends continue to air concerns regarding the outcome of the US elections and the prospect of Trump having the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
This is primarily an arts related blog so Ill refrain from getting on a political soap box at this moment. I will say I’m hoping to share some news on arts projects shortly. In the meantime, may I wish and yours a happy, healthy and memorable weekend.
I’m undecided which way to vote and need to consider to what extent the EU provides opportunities I can personally take advantage of. In theory, access to Europe and the freedom of movement is great but a rise in far right politics, nationalism, Islamophobia and continued discrimination, particularly against ethnic groups, doesn’t encourage me to think we are closer to practicing the harmonious union of nation states our leaders advocate. Many groups consider it difficult enough in the UK so will Europe, with all its challenges, be any easier for citizens with non-European origins to move freely? It’s all about perspective.
For most people, the Brexit issue didn’t appear life threatening but with the vote less than a month away, Brits are now considering the benefits of staying in. Despite the scaremongering and poor performance of leading politicians explaining the issues, we do need to consider if benefits of lower prices, more jobs and increased trade will be at stake.
The UK economy is undoubtedly strong and has benefited from being in Europe. Whilst the ‘Out Campaigners’ argue Britain is the fifth largest economy and can survive on its own, we should consider whether its economic ranking is a direct consequence of having preferential access and influence on the EU trading block comprising of half a billion people. We also need to consider the view of the Bank of England and IMF who provide an overview of the UK’s likely performance as a consequence of exiting. There remains a belief by many that Britain is in a position to command the same political and economic clout as it did at the peak of is colonial empire but this simply isn’t true, particularly with the rise of new global economic blocks and their growing influence on the political sphere. There are so many things to consider such as what is right for businesses, particularly small enterprises and how will they compete on a world market?
So what does this mean for the UK Arts sector?
In theory, being in the European market opens up opportunities for its creative industries. European Union funding nourishes and protects innovation in the UK and it is hoped such benefits will continue. Arts funding has historically been one of the first areas to be cut by UK Governments in periods of austerity so would a UK Government exiting the EU act differently during what may be a financially turbulent time?
The vibrancy of our arts sector is one of Britain’s great qualities. It is an arts superpower and home to recognised artists, musicians, filmmakers and theatrical impresarios. The UK is apparently the second-largest exporter of television in the world, worth £1.2bn in 2012 and home to the second-largest design sector on the planet, worth £131m in exports in 2011. The EU is Britain’s second-largest export market for music. Approximately 1.6 million people in the UK are employed in the creative sector, pumping out £71.4bn in gross value added. Of course, this is the result of the talent and drive of individuals in the British arts sector but there is no doubt that EU membership and funding from the EU’s Creative Europe initiative has and will continue to be been a contributing factor.
So Yes or No?
I’ll be the first to say the EU is not at all perfect and I do have my concerns about how the UK handles immigration and its economy. Is it right for Britain to throw away 40 years membership of one of the most lucrative markets on its doorstep, not to mention once again jeopardize the continuation of the union of the UK with a possible second Scottish referendum? What will all this mean for the creative industries? I’d love to hear your views. It’s time for UK arts professionals to speak up and vote!
I’m back in London and I’m very pleased announce my friend and fellow artist Kerry Zacharia will be having a solo exhibition at Starfish & Coffee from the 3rd to 30th of June as featured ‘Artist of the Month’. Starfish & Coffee is owned by actor Aykut Hilmi and supports local artists and musicians. It is situated on Aldermans Hill opposite Broomfield Park in Palmers Green. An open evening is arranged for 10th of June when Kerry talk about her art and inspiration.
The show entitled ‘London in Different Dimensions’ will showcase her London themed paintings and include a cross section of her large format paintings spanning four collections: Inner City London; London Landscapes; London Skyscapes and Love London, which have been created between 2013 and 2015. Local people may well recognise some of the park scenes from the area. Kerry’s work responds to the urban scene in an expressive graphic style that is highly individual, addressing the viewer in a very decisive and engaging way.
Kerry is a North London born artist with Greek-Cypriot origins. She displayed creative talents at a young age, but for one reason or another her career took on a different path. However, her passion for art long remained and Kerry now has an established following and exhibits primarily in London. Kerry is an artist that draws upon inspiration from the environments that she experiences and from within. Her creative vision is translated with lines, fine brush strokes, patterns and a selective range of colour within the outlines she has drawn. Kerry chooses to paint with ink on paper as she likes its fluidity and transparency but it is unforgiving, which further adds to the challenge of working in this media. Kerry is self-taught, with a style not influenced by a formal art education and largely received as different. Kerry is looking to reach out to her local community to gain their support and following throughout her art journey.
Venue details: Starfish & Coffee, 92 Aldermans Hill, Palmers Green, London N13 4PP. www.starfishlovescoffee.com Nearest station: Palmers Green (Overground)
A fellow artist and friend kindly forwarded this TED video featuring conceptual artist Sanford Biggers. I thought to share it. The artist uses painting, sculpture, video and performance to spark challenging conversations about the history and trauma of black America. He details two compelling works and shares the motivation behind his art. “Only through more thoughtful dialogue about history and race can we evolve as individuals and society,” Biggers says.