The largest exhibition to date by British-Ghanaian artist and a-n member Enam Gbewonyo showcases textile and film works that explore identity, womanhood and the healing benefits of craft.
The exhibition takes two parts, with Act I: Nude Me / Under the Skin presenting a series of works that incorporate used tights to investigate the relationship between Black women and hosiery, including histories relating to slavery and the roles of Windrush-generation women working in the NHS.
Act II: Dellu includes an ambitious performance film developed during a residency in Senegal. Exploring aspects of the country’s history including the effects of French colonisation on the lives of Senegalese women, the film ‘seeks to break the cycle of generational and lived trauma that Senegalese women carry.’
7 October 2023 – 13 January 2023, New Art Exchange, Nottingham nae.org.uk
Armet Francis: Beyond the Black Triangle
For 40 years Jamaican-British photographer Armet Francis has created images that capture experiences of diasporic communities, and record important narratives that have contributed to British history.
This exhibition includes work ranging from celebratory fashion shoots in south London’s Brixton Market in the 1970s to portraits of young black Londoners who protested the injustice of the New Cross Fire of 1981.
Meanwhile Francis’ 2008 portraits of people who arrived on the Empire Windrush ‘are critical interventions that give names to the faces of those who journeyed on that historic voyage that changed Britain forever.’
Until 20 January 2024, Autograph, London autograph.org.uk
Sit-in #3 …But There Are New Suns
The third iteration of ‘The Ignorant Art School: Five Sit-ins towards Creative Emancipation’ brings The Otolith Group (a-n Board member Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun) to Dundee for its first major exhibition in Scotland.
‘…But There Are New Suns’ presents moving image works alongside discussions, performances and reading groups. Video installation What the Owl Knows (2022) ‘revels in what it does not reveal’, making reference to ‘the texture of attentiveness devoted by painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to the demeanour and the disposition, the manner and the moods within and outwith her paintings.’
Throughout its programme, Sit-in #3 aims to interrupt ‘colonial orders of knowledge production through an open invitation to all that wish to gain traction on the convergence of multiple crises.’
13 October — 16 December 2023, Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee dundee.ac.uk/cooper-gallery
Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance
Contemporary artworks appear alongside historical pieces made in West Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Europe, to examine the city of Cambridge and the Fitzwilliam Museum’s roles in the Transatlantic enslavement of African people, and reveal stories of courage, resistance, hope and repair.
Piper’s work Coloureds’ Codex (Enlightenment Edition) critiques the historical and contemporary ways in which skin colour has been used to identify, separate and control people, while Walker’s Vanishing Point drawings rework historical portraits, making central Black figures who were previously marginalised.
Until 7 January 2024, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
Claudette Johnson: Presence
This major exhibition of figurative work by Claudette Johnson, one of the founding members of the Black British Arts Movement and a pioneer of Black British feminism in the visual arts, features works spanning her 30 year career to date.
Johnson’s large-scale drawings of Black women and men powerfully and intimately represent both Black bodies and the sitters’ interior lives. Working across a variety of media, from monochrome pastel to vivid gouache and watercolour, Johnson’s works are characterised by her commanding use of pose, scale and gaze.
Her subjects’ presence expands beyond the confines of canvas or paper, and beyond the gallery; as the artist puts it, her paintings often seek “to tell a different story about our presence in this country”.
29 September 2023 – 14 January 2023, The Courtauld Gallery, London courtauld.ac.uk
Teasing Out Contingencies
This socially engaged solo exhibition by a-n member Quilla Constance (aka QC) features large-scale oil paintings and a costume installation.
The new paintings depict costumed members of the public within opulent interiors of Buckingham Palace. These works originate in a series of performance workshops QC ran in 2019 at Tate Modern, which invited visitors to dress up in the artist’s exuberant, brightly coloured costumes and work with diverse objects and music.
‘Teasing Out Contingencies’ functions as a form of social activism, aiming to ‘confront stereotypes, and challenge gender, racial and class inequalities’, by posing questions about what British society is and might be in future.
Until 7 January 2024, The Higgins Bedford thehigginsbedford.org.uk
Here & Now
Alternative Arts presents an exhibition of contemporary photography that offers perspectives of London’s African and Caribbean culture.
Among the 14 photographers is Tanesha Lewis whose images focus on the identity and individuality of her subjects. Lewis’ work The child within remembers is a ‘love letter to a younger self’ who, as a mixed race person, experienced a sense of exclusion from prevailing beauty standards. Lewis describes the photograph as “manifesting past criticisms as radiant visual expression.”
6-28 October 2023, Brady Arts Centre, London a-n.co.uk/events/here-now-black-history-month-photography-exhibition/
a-n member Evewright presents his first solo exhibition, including works from the last 20 years and a major new floor drawing in black and bronze paint, which sweeps through the gallery to reflect themes of journeys, movement and migration.
The London-born child of Jamaican parents, Evewright makes work that engages with multiple layers of history and explores what it means to be Black and British in the UK today.
Among the works in ‘Libation’ is ££Kissi Pennies$$, a series of sculptures that echo Benin Bronzes. Inspired by modern day migration and the former West African currency known as Kissi Pennies – which took the form of iron rods and were also associated with spirits of the deceased – the sculptures investigate notions of value, trade and colonialism.
Until 29 October 2023, Firstsite, Colchester firstsite.uk
Habib Hajallie: Black Pen Portraits
London-born artist Habib Hajallie makes monochrome drawings that are informed by his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage, depicting figures from global majority ethnic backgrounds who have not traditionally been represented in British portraiture.
This exhibition presents three series of work – Family, Pioneers and Self Portraits – and includes newly commissioned portrait Alpha III, which depicts the artist’s mother Amina Hajallie assuming the role of Farma Tami, the founder of the Temne tribe from Sierra Leone in the 16th century, from which their family is descended.
20 October – 10 December 2023, Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester attenborougharts.com
More events and exhibitions will be added to this article through October 2023 – check back soon.
Top image: Armet Francis, Fashion Shoot, Brixton Market, London, 1973. Courtesy the artist and Autograph, London