In Depth

The Place Is Here: Black Art exhibition opens in Nottingham

Contemporary gallery pays tribute to the artists who put black issues in the spotlight in the 1980s

In 1982, a group of art students from the West Midlands organised the first National Black Art Convention in Wolverhampton. Bringing together multi-disciplinary mediums spanning writing, filmmaking, graphic design and more, they sought to lead a debate on the "form, functioning and future of contemporary art by black people". Two years later a second conference took place in Nottingham that examined the industry's response to the harsh economic, social and political realities experienced by the black community throughout the decade.

In a new show that has just opened at the Nottingham Contemporary, the city will pay tribute to the pivotal figures in this movement. Titled The Place is Here, the show takes its name from a line in a poem featured in contemporary African artist Lubaina Himid's artwork We Will Be. The exhibition will bring together works by pioneers such as recent Artes Mundi prize-winner John Akomfrah as well as Keith Piper, Marlene Smith, Eddie Chambers and Donald Rodney. They are founding members of the groundbreaking BLK Art Group, which questioned what black art was and what it could become in the future.

A key device highlighted throughout the exhibition is montage. This is the technique of assembling histories and identities under new terms, with the work drawing on and subverting a mixed bag of historical references from William Morris to Pop Art. The work is contextualised against a backdrop of political turbulence and social inequality, bringing to the fore such topics as Margaret Thatcher's anti-immigration policies, black feminism and apartheid in South Africa.

In today's uncertain political climate, these conversations seem as relevant as ever.

The Place is Here is at the Nottingham Contemporary from 4 February until 30 April; nottinghamcontemporary.org

Recommended

30 of the best novels so far this year
Paperback books for sale at a market stall
In Focus

30 of the best novels so far this year

UK music festivals in summer 2022
Victorious Festival takes place at Southsea seafront in Portsmouth
In Focus

UK music festivals in summer 2022

29 of the best movies so far this year
Amber Midthunder in Prey
In Focus

29 of the best movies so far this year

HowTheLightGetsIn London: philosophy and music on Hampstead Heath
HowTheLightGetsIn festival
Why we’re talking about . . .

HowTheLightGetsIn London: philosophy and music on Hampstead Heath

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 August 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 August 2022

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Inside Adelaide Cottage: Prince William and Kate’s new home ‘away from prying eyes’
William and Kate
In Depth

Inside Adelaide Cottage: Prince William and Kate’s new home ‘away from prying eyes’

The Week Footer Banner