No Colour Bar Black British Art: New Revolutionary Art Exhibition

No Colour Bar

The story of 20th century Black British cultural heritage, social and political history is to be celebrated in the UK at a new, free and interactive exhibition entitled ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’ which opens to the public on Friday 10th July 2015 at the Guildhall Art Gallery, provided by the City of London Corporation.  

‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’ is a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) collaboration between the Friends of the Huntley Archives at the London Metropolitan Archives  (FHALMA), the Guildhall Art Gallery and the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).

This six-month long, purpose-built multi-media exhibition and events programme takes its impetus from the life works of Eric and Jessica Huntley and the Bogle L’Ouverture Press, a publishing house as well as a pioneering Black bookshop and cultural hub they founded in 1968.  

The realisation that Britain was changing forever is no better articulated than through the lens of the pioneers of what was to become Black British cultural heritage.  The Huntleys were the publishing powerhouses that spawned a dynamic generation of cultural and political leaders, whose stories are told and celebrated for the first time in the UK at this fascinating exhibition.

2015 sees the 10th Anniversary of the Huntley Archives at the LMA, and ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’ will be a fitting marker and visual record of the socio-cultural dynamics spanning the three decades, epitomising FHALMA’s mission of bringing the archive alive and sharing its importance with modern day audiences.

At the heart of the exhibition will be a recreation of the Bogle-L’Ouverture Walter Rodney bookshop, created by renowned artist and curator Dr Michael McMillan (West Indian Front Room) and sound and visual specialists, Dubmorphology.  Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in a stunning multi-sensory, multi-visual experience including works of art, sculpture, photographs, paintings, letters and other artefacts from more than 25 prominent Black artists during this period including Eddie Chambers, Sonia Boyce, Denzil Forrester and Chila Kumari Burman.  

Influenced by the emergence of newly independent African and Caribbean states, global liberation struggles, the fight against unfair discrimination and an insistence on dignified citizenship within Britain, these artists found expression by way of ‘creation for liberation’.  The exhibition will explore these struggles and celebrate their contribution through four powerful themes: ‘Elbow Room’, ‘Broad Shoulders’, ‘Clenched Fists’ and ‘Open Arms’.

The Guildhall Art Gallery is part of the City of London’s evolving ‘cultural hub’, a vibrant, multi-cultural area and this multi-sensory exhibition will be open daily providing visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the significance of Black British culture and the importance of its historical contribution to the UK and its wider impact as a political designation.

Throughout its tenure, ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’, will also play host to a series of scheduled events enriching the visitor experience through a diverse range of educational talks, workshops and gallery tours.  One of the highlights of the programme of events is the Tenth Annual Huntley Conference, which takes place on Saturday 10th October in the Old Library.  This youth-led, inter-generational conference will explore new thinking and ideas raised by the exhibition. 

Beverley Mason, Project Manager for ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’, comments: “We are excited to share this vital period in British contemporary history to new audiences and uncover the voices and creative vision of world class Black British artists, who were inspired by, or directly worked with, the pioneering Huntleys.  To have created this culturally important archive and arts exhibition marks a valuable shift in thinking about the approach to opening up and enlivening archives and historical art collections worldwide. It’s a great moment in the history of the Guildhall Art Gallery and it’s the perfect venue and location for facilitating these important conversations and showcasing this culturally symbolic archive and thought-provoking works of art.” 

‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’ at Guildhall Art Gallery. The project will create a visual record of the socio-cultural dynamics spanning the three decades by juxtaposing archival documents relating to popular and political culture – pamphlets and posters related to community campaigns, artist movements and ‘conscious’ popular entertainment, book fair flyers, LP sleeves, press clippings – with original works of art: paintings, sculpture, photographs and other relevant artefacts. The Guildhall Art Gallery is located in the heart of the City, next to the medieval Guildhall, the Art Gallery houses and displays paintings and sculptures collected by the City of London Corporation. Steeped in history, the Gallery also houses the remains of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, which was discovered here in 1988 and is open to the public.  It is part of London’s ‘cultural hub’ that includes the Barbican Centre, the Guildhall School and Milton Court, and the Museum of London.  

Guildhall Art Gallery, Heritage Gallery and London’s Roman Amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AR; Tel: 020 7332 3700. Admission: Free to the Gallery’s permanent collection, No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 and the amphitheatre. Open: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sun 12-4pm. Nearest Underground stations: Bank, St. Pauls, Mansion House or Moorgate.



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