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British South-Asian Visual Art Post Cool Britannia

This research group has been set up by Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London and responds to the comparative invisibility of British South-Asian artists. The impetus to establish this group was the result of anti-racism and decolonizing discussions between academics, artists and students in the College’s painting studios.

We aim to build a network that recognises the diversity of practice of British South-Asian visual artists, academics, and curators, and emanates from local and national art schools and museums. Inclusivity is at the core of this group. All events will be designed so that they are accessible, welcoming and safe spaces for all.

The group will facilitate a series of open discussions (online and in person) with British South-Asian visual artists exploring the role and presence of British and Asian identities within their practice. We aim for discussions to be intergenerational so that ideas of British Asian identity are explored across the work of 2nd and 3rd generation British Asian artists. This group embraces and celebrates the ‘artists voice’ and recognises the positionality of gender, class, faith and sexuality. We welcome differing narratives, challenging clichés and creating new dialogues.

This group is led by Raksha Patel (Lecturer, Camberwell College of Arts) with Daniel Sturgis (UAL Professor in Painting).

Activity in 2021

In the second part of 2021 the group delivered three highly successful on-line events, which were then edited and posted on-line. Each event attracted a significant audience and films are being promoted and viewed on a variety of platforms (BAN, Camberwell YouTube).

These events were:

The Body, the Home of Unseen Landscapes. With speakers George Chakravarthi, Jai Chuhan and Alia Syed chaired by Raksha Patel. This event looked at the placement of the diasporic body within the traditions of Western European art. Three artists shared their depictions of the ‘other’ through painterly surfaces, deteriorated celluloid film and the photographic male nude, entering pictorial spaces of displacement and ownership, offering alternate narratives through the gaze, mudras and fabric. Hosted UAL Zoom. May 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Un-Swamping the River – Painters Turning the Tide on Racism. An event with three presentations, a discussion chaired by Dr Kimathi Donkor looked at the way racism has impacted and in turn been depicted in the work of three contemporary artists. This event explored how the works of three contemporary artists, Bhajan Hunjan, Hardeep Pandhal and Raksha Patel have responded to the fluctuating socio-political position of race in Britain.  Hosted UAL Zoom. July 6 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm 

The Shape of Immateriality. This event looked at the interconnections between abstract art, narrative and heritage explored through presentations of works by three contemporary artists: Rana Begum, Reza Ben Gajra, Haroun Hayward. The event was chaired by Professor Daniel Sturgis and opened conversations on how each of the individual artists have used an abstract language to hold or draw on specific cultural readings whilst thinking about where influences come from and if aspects of South Asian heritage inform individuals. Hosted UAL Zoom. September 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

The group have also planned a series of future events which they would like to run and have ambitions to commission a series of texts focussing on some of the artist engaged with in 2021.

Daniel Sturgis and Raksha Patel, January 2022

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