Earlier this month, Punctum gallery space at Chelsea College of Arts hosted the exhibition The Beginnings of Truth, the result of a collaboration by nine Chelsea students from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who make up the group Artists of Colour, Chelsea.
The group was formed in June this year after initially some Fine Art students from across BA, Graduate Diploma and MA courses came together for a Black Art Practice Workshop Week, led by Dr Kimathi Donkor, and Professor Sonia Boyce RA.
Farrukh Akbar, a current MA Fine Art student, explained on behalf of the group: “Each day the workshop was presented by a different visiting artist including Permindar Kaur, Ajamu and Mary Evans. It was a really interesting and thought-provoking week and for the student artists, it provided an opportunity for deeper critical exploration of identity and culture, focusing on how these concepts were culturally and historically constructed and using this analysis to understand the nature of human interactions and examine why racial problems continue to endure.”
The Black Art Practice Workshop Week also referenced Professor Boyce’s work as Principle-Investigator on the Black Artists and Modernism research project a,collaboration between UAL and Middlesex University that is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The week comprised presentations of the work of the visiting artists alongside emotive readings from historic and modern texts as well as encouraging the students to collaborate to produce their own work.
“By celebrating and critiquing the contribution made to the wider art world by ‘artists of colour’, the workshops evoked a discussion about how pioneering artists have navigated and worked within frequently hostile environments, demonstrating that progressive race discourses rely on an ever-changing milieu and intersectional and intergenerational dialogue.” said Akbar reflecting on the week’s work.
Since the workshop events, the members of Artists of Colour, Chelsea have reflected on how their individual art practices can become an interface for their respective cultural identities. Consequently, the group have published a brochure and the exhibition The Beginnings of Truth, seeking to explore the complexities of the ‘racialised’ semiotic fields of representation and how theoretical and body politics appear in contemporary art practice and criticism.
The private view of the exhibition was held on Friday 7 Oct with a large number of attendees visiting from the Now & Then, Here & There conference, held by the Black Artists and Modernism project, which was held at nearby Tate Britain.
“The exhibition proved to be a great platform for charged and thought provoking conversations.” continued Akbar. “Next, we are expecting to host another event in the Chelsea Banqueting Suite in November with external guests, including poets, who will explore these diversity and culture issues further.”
Find out more about the Black Artists and Modernism research project on their website.
Find out more about studying MA Fine Art at Chelsea on our course page.