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Afro-Caribbean Art

Group show at Artists Market. 1978
Date: 27 April, 1978 until 25 May, 1978
Organiser: Drum Arts Centre, London

Afro-Caribbean Art was a large open submission exhibition organised by Drum Arts Centre, held 27 April – 25 May 1978 at the Artists Market, 52 Earlham Street, London, WC2. The artists were, Mohammed Ahmed Abdalla, Keith Ashton, Colin Barker, Lloyd George Blair, Frank Bowling, Linward Campbell, Jan Connell, Dam X, D. Dasri, Horace de Bourg, Gordon de la Mothe, Daphne Dennison, Art Derry, Barbara Douglas, Reynold Duncan, Anthony Gidden, Lubaina Himid, Merdelle Irving, Siddig El N’Goumi, Anthony Jadunath (his name appeared in the catalogue as Jadwnagh), Emmanuel Taiwo Jegede, Donald Locke, G. S. Lynch, Errol Lloyd, Cyprian Mandala, Althea McNish, Nadia Ming, Lloyd Nelson, Bill Patterson, Rudi Patterson, Eugene Palmer, Shaigi Rahim, Orville Smith, Jeffrey Rickard Trotman, Adesose Wallace, Lance Watson, and Moo Young. [The last artist listed was likely to have been Tony Moo Young, from Jamaica, though the Moo Young listed in the catalogue was listed as coming from Trinidad.] The only substantial references to this exhibition are a review by Rasheed Araeen, published in Black Phoenix (Afro-Caribbean Art, Black Phoenix, No 2 Summer 1978 pp. 30 – 31), and a review “In View” by Emmanuel Cooper, contained in Art & Artists, Hansom Books, London, Volume 13, Number 3, Issue Number 148, July 1978. A feature on Drum Arts Centre, titled Drum Call for Black Britain, written by Taiwo Ajai appeared in Africa magazine. No. 44 April 1975 p. 43

The exhibition was important for several reasons. Firstly, the staging of the exhibition reflected the sorts of cultural strategies to which a number of Black British artists were gravitating, by the late 1970s. The exhibition was organised by Drum Arts Centre, very much an arts centre in the making, rather than one already fully formed. Secondly, the exhibition effectively reflected a number of the strands of artistic practice then being pursued by Black artists within the capital. And thirdly, the critique of the exhibition by Rasheed Araeen offered what he considered to be substantial pointers to the limitations of cross art form exhibitions that had as the criterion for their existence the supposed racial or ethnic commonality of the exhibitors. Cross art form group exhibitions of work by Black artists represented a knotty contradiction of sorts. On the one hand, these exhibitions represented an apparent marginalizing, or separating, of these artists from the mainstream. Simultaneously however, the bringing together, within one exhibition of all manner of art works emphasized the degree to which the exhibitors perhaps had little in common beyond shared ethnicity or related ethnic identities.

The coming together of the artists in Afro-Caribbean Art enacted a strategy of cultural empowerment, in the face of British societal hostility and entrenched art world indifference. As a grassroots initiative, the artists themselves were untroubled by the somewhat eclectic nature of the exhibition. Indeed, they drew strength from their coming together as practitioners across the divides of art practice, and in some instances, nationality. It was for others (notably, Araeen) to predict or identify the fissures that would, in years to come, bedevil certain exhibitions of Black artists’ work. In his Introduction in the catalogue for Afro-Caribbean Art, the Executive Director of Drum Arts Centre, one John Mapondera, drew attention to the ways in which the exhibition had been constructed:

“The exhibition as always can only speak for itself through the work that is on show. However, in conceiving this exhibition we could not escape the fact that some elements of such an exhibition would be unknown before it actually materialized. Being the first of its kind the Open Exhibition of Afro-Caribbean Art in Britain, has had to be an exploratory venture. It’s main purpose was to discover what young Black Artists are working in Britain today, in the hope that the resulting exhibition would help to stimulate and promote the development of such artists.”

[Catalogue Introduction, Afro-Caribbean Art exhibition organised by Drum Arts Centre, held 27 April – 25 May 1978 at the Artists Market, 52 Earlham Street, London, WC2.]

The exhibition came with a modest but nonetheless hugely important catalogue.



Related items

click to show details of Afro-Caribbean Art catalogue

»  Afro-Caribbean Art catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1978

People in this exhibition + view all 37

»  (Sir) Frank Bowling OBE, RA

Born, 1935 - 1937 (probably 1936) in British Guiana (now Guyana) Caribbean/S. America

»  Errol Lloyd

Born, 1943 in Jamaica

Exhibition venues

»  Artists Market

London, United Kingdom