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Commonwealth Institute

London, United Kingdom

The forerunner of the Commonwealth Institute was known as the Imperial Institute. A measure of its significance, as a venue for the work of artist from countries of the British Empire, or former countries of the British Empre, such as India, can be gleaned from a sentence in a personal recollection by Avinash Chandra. In his text of 1968, Avinash Chandra: Some personal notes (Studio International journal of modern art, October 1968), Chandra wrote (of London, a decade or so earlier), “…Then, like most Indian and other ‘colonial’ painters, I had my first London show at the Commonwealth Institute (then the Imperial Institute) and, once again, enjoyed some success.”

There were two gallery spaces at the Commonwealth Institute, located at Kensington High Street. The main space opened with an inaugural exhibition, Commonwealth Art Today, on 7 November 1962. A second space, known as the Bhownagree Gallery, occupying a passageway/corridor, also existed within this central London complex, which existed to promote the arts, culture, and other aspects of the countries of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Institute hosted a considerable number of important exhibitions, over a period of nearly four decades. These exhibitions included solo shows, group shows, by artists from, or with significant links to, the countries of the Commonwealth. The inaugural exhibition, Commonwealth Art Today, provided an invaluable series of snapshots of contemporary art practice, as it existed across extensive parts of the world. Guyana (then known as British Guiana) was represented by Frank Bowling and Aubrey Williams.

A piece titled Exhibitions at the Commonwealth Institute appeared in the Winter 1973 issue of African Arts magazine (Volume VI, Number 2). The piece was written by South African-born artist Denis Bowen. The text opened, “During the course of any twelve months or so the program of exhibitions organized by the Commonwealth Art Gallery in London invariably provides some opporunities to study the work of contemporary African artists. The 1972 program included exhibitions of paintings by Yusuf Grillo of Nigeria and of wood carvings by Mwariko Omari of Tanzania.” This was in effect a review of these two artists’ work.

Related items + view all 7

click to show details of 1st Commonwealth Biennale of Abstract Art

»  1st Commonwealth Biennale of Abstract Art

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1963

click to show details of Balraj Khanna, Mak Kum-Siew, Shiv Singh

»  Balraj Khanna, Mak Kum-Siew, Shiv Singh

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1970

click to show details of Jamaican Intuitives

»  Jamaican Intuitives

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1986

click to show details of Jamaican Intuitives - Arts Review

»  Jamaican Intuitives - Arts Review

Review relating to an exhibition, 1986

click to show details of Ten Jamaican Sculptors catalogue

»  Ten Jamaican Sculptors catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1975

Exhibitions at this venue + view all 6

People who have appeared at this venue - view 5

»  Mahmoud Pharouk Alladin

Born, 1919 in Tacarigua, Trinidad. Died, 1980

»  Oku Ampofo

Born, 1908 in Ghana. Died, 1998

»  Albert Artwell

Born, 1942 in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. Died, 2018

»  Frank Avray Wilson

Born, 1914 in Mauritius. Died, 2009

»  Tony Bag

Born, 1953 in Hanover, Jamaica

»  Douglas Bland

Born, 1923 in Eccleshall, England. Died, 1975

»  James Boswell

Born, 1906 in Westport, New Zealand

»  Denis Bowen

Born, 1921 in Kimberley, South Africa. Died, 2006

»  David Boxer (Dr)

Born, 1946 in St Andrew, Jamaica

»  Clinton Brown

Born, 1954 in Kingston, Jamaica

»  Everald Brown

Born, 1917 in St. Ann, Jamaica. Died, 2002

»  Sam Brown

Born, 1935 in Trelawney, Jamaica

»  Arthur Kobina Bucknor

Born, 1925 in Gold Coast (Ghana). Died, 1975

»  Olayinka Burney-Nicol

Born, 1927 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Died, 1996

»  Leslie Candappa

Born, 1927 in Columbo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

»  Avinash Chandra

Born, 1931 in Simla, India. Died, 1991

»  Max Chapman

Born, 1911 in London

»  George Claessen

Born, 1909 in Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

»  Alex Colville

Born, 1920 in Toronto, Canada

»  Kenneth Coutts Smith

Born, 1929. Died, 1981

»  Emanuel Vincent Cremona

Born, 1919 in Valletta, Malta. Died, 1987

»  William Culbert

Born, 1935 in Port Chalmers, New Zealand

»  Leonard Daley

Born, 1930 in Point Hill, St. Catherine, Jamaica. Died, 2006

»  John Drawbridge

Born, 1930 in Wellington, New Zealand

»  John Dunkley

Born, 1886 - 1896 (probably 1891) in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, Jamaica. Died, 1947

»  Ben Enwonwu MBE

Born, 1917 - 1925 (probably 1921) in Onitsha, Nigeria. Died, 1994

»  Lamidi Fakeye

Born, 1922 - 1928 (probably 1925) in Illa-Orangun, Nigeria. Died, 2009

»  Bill Featherston

Born, 1927 - 1929 (probably 1928) in Canada. Died, 2009

»  Denzil Forrester

Born, 1956 in Grenada

»  William Gear

Born, 1915 in Scotland. Died, 1997

»  Christopher Gonzalez

Born, 1943 in Jamaica

»  Fitzroy Harrack

Born, 1945 in Grenada

»  Lester Hoilett

Born, 1930 in Gayle, Jamaica

»  Irvine Homer

Born, 1919 in New Lambton, New South Wales, Australia. Died, 1980

»  Maqbul/Maqbool Fida Husain

Born, 1915 in Sholapur, India. Died, 2011

»  John Hutton

Born, 1906 in Clyde, Otago, New Zealand. Died, 1978

»  William “Woody” Joseph

Born, 1919 in St. Mary, Jamaica. Died, 2000

»  George Keyt

Born, 1901 in Kandy, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Died, 1993

»  Kamil Khan

Born, 1939 in Calcutta, India

»  Balraj Khanna

Born, 1938 - 1942 (probably 1940) in Punjab, India

»  Mak Kum-Siew

Born, 1940 in Singapore

»  Peter Lanyon

Born, 1918 in Cornwall

»  John Latham

Born, 1921 in Africa

»  Lui Shou-Kwan

Born, 1919 in Canton, China. Died, 1975

»  Edna Manley

Born, 1900 in Yorkshire, England. Died, 1987

»  Alvin Marriott

Born, 1902 - 1906 (probably 1904) in St. Andrew, Jamaica. Died, 1992

»  Leon Maxwell

Born in Jamaica, date unknown

»  Colin McCahon

Born, 1919 in Timaru, New Zealand. Died, 1987

»  Sidney McClaren

Born, 1895 in St. Thomas, Jamaica

»  David Miller, Jr.

Born, 1903 in Kingston, Jamaica. Died, 1977

»  David Miller, Snr.

Born, 1872 in Kingston, Jamaica. Died, 1969

»  Ronald Moody

Born, 1900 in Kingston, Jamaica. Died, 1984

»  Henry Moore

Born, 1898 in Castleford, Yorkshire. Died, 1986

»  Ken Moore

Born, 1923 in Australia

»  Hylton Nembhard

Born, 1950 in Jamaica

»  William Newcombe

Born, 1907 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

»  Sidney Nolan (Sir)

Born, 1917 in Melbourne, Australia. Died, 1992

»  Sam Joseph Ntiro

Born, 1923 in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Died, 1993

»  Stass Paraskos

Born, 1933 in Cyprus

»  David Partridge

Born, 1919 in Akron, Ohio

»  Ahmed Parvez

Born, 1926 in Rawalpindi, (now Pakistan, then India). Died, 1979

»  Victor Pasmore

Born, 1908 in Surrey, England. Died, 1998

»  Winston Patrick

Born, 1946 in Jamaica

»  Zacchaeus Powell

Born, 1944 in St. Thomas, Jamaica

»  Ras Dizzy

Born, 1927 - 1937 (probably 1932) in Jamaica. Died, 2008

»  Roy Reid

Born, 1937 in Portland, Jamaica

»  Kapo (Mallica Reynolds)

Born, 1911 in St. Catherine, Jamaica. Died, 1989

»  William Rhule

Born, 1955 - 1961 (probably 1958) in Jamaica

»  Jean-Paul Riopelle

Born, 1923 in Montreal, Canada. Died, 2002

»  Michael Rothenstein

Born, 1908 in London. Died, 1993

»  Ashu Roy

Born in Calcutta, India, date unknown

»  Ron Russell

Born, 1923 in Australia

»  Viren Sahai

Born, 1933 in India

»  Jack Shadbolt

Born, 1909 in Shoeburyness, England. Died, 1998

»  Shiv Singh

Born, 1938 in Punjab, India

»  Francis Newton Souza

Born, 1924 in Goa, India. Died, 2002

»  Stapleton

»  Kay Sullivan

Born, 1944 in Jamaica

»  Gaston Tabois

Born, 1918 - 1930 (probably 1924) in Trout Hall, Clarendon, Jamaica. Died, 2012

»  Chuah Thean Teng

Born, 1912 - 1916 (probably 1914) in China. Died, 2008

»  Brian Wall

Born, 1931

»  Osmond Watson

Born, 1934 in Kingston, Jamaica. Died, 2005

»  Aubrey Williams

Born, 1926 in Georgetown, Guyana. Died, 1990

»  John ‘Doc’ Williamson

Born, 1911 in St. James, Jamaica

»  Sylvester Woods

Born in St. Mary, Jamaica, date unknown

»  Sir Mountford Tosswill Woollaston

Born, 1910 in Taranaki, New Zealand. Died, 1998

»  Nancy Wynne-Jones

Born, 1922 in Wales. Died, 2006

»  Bryan Wynter

Born, 1916 in London. Died, 1975

»  Allan Zion

Born, 1930 in St. Andrew, Jamaica