I have recently collaborated with the Friends of Huntley Archives at London Metropolitan Archives (FHALMA) for the exhibition ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990‘.
This free exhibition held at the Guildhall Art Gallery is a must see for anyone interested in the social history of the African-Carribean diaspora communities within Britain during the latter stages of the 20th Century. The exhibition presents works by renowned Black British artists such as, Sonia Boyce, Chila Kumari Burman and Keith Piper as well as displaying photographs, for the first time, from the Huntley Archives. The exhibition also features an installation, by the artist Michael McMillan, who has recreated the groundbreaking Bogle-L’Ouverture Walter Rodney Bookshop, a place that was the hub of activism between 1974-1990.
What led me to this project was the idea of presenting a piece of social history that has been overlooked and championing Black British art, areas which I have always been passionately interested in. I’m ashamed to say that I did not know much about the work carried out by Eric and Jessica Huntley, the founders of the Bogle-L’Ouverture bookshop, before this project. They were political activists driving forward issues concerning the Black community in and around London. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the bookshop was based in Ealing, who would have thought this leafy part of London would be the place to inspire so many? A place which I have grown up in.
What has struck me about this project is the brilliant use and acknowledgement of volunteers thus truly making it an accessible public project for all. The volunteers’ contributions are immensely appreciated and seen as invaluable. Trustees and those working at FHALMA really get to know the volunteers and not just take them for granted. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Eric Huntley and talking about Southall’s illustrious past with him. My time on this project so far has definitely inspired me for ideas for my MA dissertation and I look forward to my continued contribution with FHALMA.
I would strongly recommend for anyone interested in social history and art to get involved in this exhibition. It is a fantastic opportunity for those who would like to gain experience in the museum and heritage sector. If you would like to get involved in this wonderful project please contact: Manjit Ahluwalia at email@example.com for further details.
The exhibition is free and open from 10 July 2015 – 24 January 2016