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Us an’ Dem boxed catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1994
Published by: Eddie Chambers
Year published: 1994

image of Us an’ Dem boxed catalogue

A boxed catalogue with 15 postcards produced to accompany the exhibition Us an’ Dem [Us and Them]. An exhibition of work by Faisal Abdu’Allah, Denzil Forrester, and Tam Joseph. Curated by Eddie Chambers, held at The Storey Institute, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster, 18 March - 15 April 1994. 

Extracts from the press release: “Us an’ Dem is an exhibition that attempts to take a critical look at relationships between the police, the judiciary and the Black community. The exhibition presents three artists’ responses to these issues. All three artists are of African-Caribbean origin, and all are resident in the London area. Faisal Abdu’Allah was born in London. Denzil Forrester was born in Grenada, and Tam Joseph was born in Dominica… Us an’ dem is not an optimistic exhibition, though it decisively demonstrates that the Black community continues to have genuine and deep-seated anxieties, frustrations and concerns about the state of its relationships with the collective forces of ‘law and order’.”

The title of the exhibition was taken from a poem, Us an Dem, by Benjamin Zephaniah, who opened the exhibition.

The catalogue (inscribed For Oluwale and all the others) was presented within an A5 sized box. The small catalogue’s contents as follows:

Foreword, by John Webb, David Warburton and Manjeet Lamba, Lancashire Probation Service

An introduction to the exhibition by Eddie Chambers, plus short essays in the three artists’ work.

The text on Faisal Abdu’Allah was provided by The Watchmen Agency and had first appeared in The Face magazine the previous year. Titled Shock of the Nubian. From the text: “[Faisal] reacts strongly to the portrayal of black people in art. Few have been as exploited and at the same time excluded as black people: plagiarised, patronised and romanticised from Picasso to Mapplethorpe to Haring. While other people’s versions and visions of black culture have never been too far from the gallery wall, the people themselves have remained outside.”

John Lyons provided The Paintings of Denzil Forrester, in which Lyons claims “As a painter, Denzil distils the horror of Black people’s suffering at the hands of “the collective forces of ‘law and order’,” He distils with such a refined potency of artistic expression, that one is immediately seduced by the first perpetual taste, until it hits the back of the throat, so to speak, and enters the digestive tract of appraisal.”

Marlene Smith provided HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN? : Black People, the police and the judiciary in the work of Tam Joseph. Within her text, Smith argues that “Seeing again the works selected for this exhibition, comparing them, contemplating why and how they succeed I was struck by the powerful dichotomy at work. There is in these pieces a sense of terror and yet humour. It is the underlying sense of an “aesthetic of terror” that strikes me. A sense that one could and must laugh at the sheer absurdity of racism and yet the danger - a danger which is greater than mortal danger.”

The box also contained, as mentioned, 15 postcards, of the following pieces:

Faisal Abdu’Allah, Raham, silkscreen print on mild steel, 1993

Faisal Abdu’Allah, Hasan, silkscreen print on mild steel, 1993

Faisal Abdu’Allah, Fuck da Police, silkscreen print on mild steel, 1993

Said Adrus, Popular Tales, (detail), mixed media, 1990

Denzil Forrester, Police in Van, oil on board, 200 x 124 cm

Denzil Forrester, Blue Jay, 1987, oil on canvas, 247 x 183 cm, 1987

Denzil Forrester, The Burial of Winston Rose, oil on canvas, 214 x 247 cm

Denzil Forrester, Three Wicked Men, oil on canvas, 277 x 412 cm

Tam Joseph, Spirit of the Carnival, (detail), acrylic on brown wrapping paper, 1984

Tam Joseph, The Law Standing on Your Neck

Tam Joseph, Has Anyone Seen Tony Birbeck? (detail), 1983,

Tam Joseph, White House Killings, acrylic on canvas, 135 x 135 cms

Keith Piper, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (detail), emulsion and acrylic on unstretched canvas

Keith Piper and Donald Rodney, The Next Turn of the Screw (an installation, included in the 1987 Chelsea School of Art exhibition, ‘The Devils (sic) Feast‘).

Donald Rodney, Crisis X-ray History, mixed media

A number of the postcards had printed quotes on the reverse, from texts by Eddie Chambers, describing the relevant work.

Related people + view all 13

»  Denzil Forrester

Born, 1956 in Grenada

»  Tam Joseph

Born, 1947 in Dominica

»  Manjeet Lamba

Born, 1953 in Nairobi, Kenya

»  Keith Piper

Born, 1960 in Malta

»  Donald Rodney

Born, 1961 in Birmingham, England. Died, 1998

Related exhibitions

»  Us an’ Dem

Group show at The Storey Institute. 1994

Related venues

»  The Storey Institute

Lancaster, United Kingdom