British Artists Recreate ‘A Great Day in Harlem’ Photo for Black History Month | Black History Month

Established and emerging black artists will be photographed together to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of Britain’s black art movement, as part of a series of events for Black History Month in October.

Based in South London, The Black Cultural Archives will commemorate the occasion by paying tribute to the classic 1958 A Great Day in Harlem photograph by hosting a group photo featuring black artists who were part of the original movement alongside emerging talent.

The National Black Art Convention, which inspired the launch of the British black art movement in 1982, has been the driving force behind the careers of many artists, including Keith Piper and Sonia Boyce.

Lisa Anderson, the director of the Black Cultural Archives, said the decision to recreate the photo to celebrate the 40th anniversary since the launch of the British black arts movement was due to a desire to “document the community” .

She added: “I want to celebrate the community and want there to be a sense of the importance of being documented through photography.

“We wanted to enrich the archive, especially the way the archive represents the history of some of the pioneering and emerging art makers from the black community.”

Anderson added that they borrowed the concept from Tomorrow’s Warriors, a British jazz organization that paid tribute to the Harlem photo last year with a music day called A Great Day in London.

“We’re borrowing the concept because we haven’t seen a single photograph documenting black British visual artists, and I think it will be a tool for people to do further research and engage with its history, and also help people inspire them to pursue their passion for visual arts.”

Charlie Phillips, who will capture the moment and is considered one of Britain’s greatest photographers, said his involvement in the project was due to a desire to “document our history”.

“There’s a missing hole in our history because not much has been documented by us, before us,” Phillips said.

Also this month, Brent’s City Council will unveil a new public artwork in one of its parks, to commemorate the victims of the transatlantic slave trade after investigating the park’s name after a former British Prime Minister with links to the slave trade.

The artwork, called The Anchor, The Drum, The Ship, was commissioned after Gladstone Park, named after former Prime Minister William Gladstone, was identified for review in 2020 as part of the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which assessed statues. , street names and landmarks to ensure they reflected London’s rich and diverse history and represented all Londoners.

Three flowerbeds in the shape of an anchor, the Akan symbol for a drum and ship
Flowerbeds in Gladstone Park in the form of the Akan symbol for a drum, ship and anchor to evoke themes of migration and connection. Photo: Harun Morrison Azul De Monte

Gladstone’s father, who was one of the largest slave owners in the Caribbean, received the largest of all compensation payments made by the Slave Compensation Commission.

Linett Kamala, a director of Notting Hill Carnival and the founder of Lin Kam Art, who will unveil the artwork, said it commemorates not only the victims of the slave trade, but also the “huge, fantastic contribution the black community has made.” represents. to the community.”

Kamala added: “The park has a number of murals, but there is nothing that reflects the transatlantic slave trade, although the park bears the name [after] the prime minister’s father who received the largest [slavery] compensation.”

“The artwork will be a place, we hope, where people come together, where we can have these conversations.”

Harun Morrison wears cap
Harun Morrison designed the garden landscape to raise questions for people who come across the mural in the park. Photo: James Allan

Harun Morrison, the artist behind the mural, said he was interested in creating an installation that “opened questions for anyone who encountered him in the park without being overly prescriptive.

“I also tried to create an image to think about the metaphorical potential of plants, as well as the history of the park and the history of the Gladstone family,” he added.

In Glasgow, the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum hosts events celebrating black Scottish art and culture.

The event, called Our Stories Between the Myths and Memories, is programmed by Scottish Zimbabwean artist Natasha Thembiso Ruwona and will showcase work by artists and creatives from across the Scottish African diaspora.

Thembiso Ruwona said: “I am very excited to bring so many brilliant creative practitioners from the Scottish African diaspora together in one space and to celebrate their contributions to the creative sector.”

She added: “This project speaks to our past, present and possible futures exploring the history, culture and identity of Black Scottish. It is also a timely event that highlights the work David Livingstone Birthplace is doing as they reflect on the role of museums in telling truthful stories, asking important questions about legacy and memory.”

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