The Black British Art research group brings together curators, artists, researchers and academics interested in critical race issues as they pertain to the histories, collection, production, consumption and display of art in Britain and its audiences.
Founded in 2017, its first phase focused on supporting networking and audience engagement around a series of exhibitions that explored key figures and moments in the development of Black art in Britain. This included consideration of the series of exhibitions that took place in early 2017 at Spike Island and Modern Art Oxford to explore the practices of Lubaina Himid and the wider BLK Art Group as archived and displayed in The Place is Here at Nottingham Contemporary and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA). The group also explored some of the issues around engaging audiences for Black art in Britain through a discussion of Tate Modern’s Soul of a Nation and the International Curators Forum exhibition of the Diaspora Pavilion: Venice to Wolverhampton.
Phase two of the research group will focus specifically on the theme of Confronting the Past for a Sustainable Future which will be explored in a variety of ways, including thinking through the most appropriate strategies for historic collections to confront their own uncomfortable economic origins (specifically the legacies of the slave economy) and/or historically racialised assumptions of display. It might mean finding new strategies for working with contemporary diaspora artists to address legacies of the slave economy and of Empire, or critically reviewing past exhibitions and what they may or may not have achieved, as a way of informing future exhibitions and displays.
The Black British Art research group is led by Dr Elizabeth Robles (Lecturer in Contemporary Art, University of Bristol), Dr Alice Correia (independent art historian) and Marlene Smith (artist and curator).