Black Women Artists
Black women artists in Britain have played a significant role in the vitality of contemporary British art, yet how many of us can say that we have seen their work or engaged with their visions?
In an exhibition that charted the rise of Black British identity and culture in the UK, No Colour Bar also celebrates female artists’ integral role in interpreting contemporary life and the Black experience, played out through their views on religion, politics and sexual politics.
Jessica Huntley’s passion and fiery commitment to fighting social injustice and engagement in humanitarian activism was legendary. From an early age, she led change in regard to supporting Black women’s rights, co-founding the Women’s Progressive Organisation to represent women’s issues in the Guyanese People’s Progressive Party’s fight for national liberation in 1953 before her arrival in the UK. Her influence helped lay the groundworks for changing the profile and roles for women, playing a crucial part in enabling Black artists, activists and intellectuals to meet and exchange ideas – creating critical spaces for experimentation and learning.
The No Colour Bar Exhibition discussed significant pieces by Black women artists, narrating the struggles for visibility and resilience. They highlight key themes that continue to provoke, challenge, and uplift womanist dialogues.
Sonia Boyce MBE, recognised for her large chalk and pastel drawings re-imagining friends, family and childhood, was part of the Black British Art movement of the 1980s – a radical political art movement inspired by anti-racist discourse and feminist critique, which highlighted issues of race and gender. Inspired by her Kalabari heritage and African culture, critically acclaimed Sokari Douglas Camp CBE explores challenging political themes, including gender restrictions and divisions. Predominantly sculpting in metal; a medium exclusively associated with male artists within Africa, Douglas Camp challenges cultural norms and conventions in the most striking way. Other notable female artists whose work featured at the exhibition include Chila Kumari Burman and Lubaina Himid.