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Chelsea

A close up of the cover of the book Familiar Stranger by Stuart Hall

Iniva and the Stuart Hall Library move to Chelsea College of Arts

Written by Natalie Anastasiou
Published date 02 October 2019

For 25 years, Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) has been working to radically transform the visual arts landscape. Challenging notions of difference and diversity, Iniva is dedicated to looking at the social and political impact of globalisation in visual arts through the lens of race, class and gender.

It is a debate that is just as important now as it was when Iniva was founded and led by cultural theorist Stuart Hall in 1994, Iniva’s first Chair. Stuart Hall Library is Iniva’s critical and creative hub, holding its collections on art from Africa, Asia, Latin America and UK artists of diverse cultural backgrounds. It supports Iniva’s work by documenting and facilitating its research into the contemporary visual arts within an international and transnational context, as well as providing critical material on issues of cultural identity.

Some books from the Stuart Hall Library archive
Some books from the Stuart Hall Library archive - Credit: Jason Grant

This year, Iniva and the Stuart Hall Library have relocated from Shoreditch, east London to be based at Chelsea College of Arts. The move reflects a long history of collaboration with Chelsea, highlighting connections to recent research projects such as Black Artists and Modernism. There is also a shared history with world renowned alumni, curators and artists such as Yinka Shonibare MBE RA, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Professor Sonia Boyce MBE RA, Professor Paul Goodwin and the curator David A. Bailey MBE. The move has established further space for Stuart Hall Library’s collection of over 10,000 books, journals, periodicals and publications and the refurbishment has created a new architect-designed centre for research into contemporary art and culture.

Visited every year by over 2,500 academic and self-led learners, the Library is a research facility which develops ideas for debate and a greater understanding of the complexities of the contemporary world through exhibitions, events, learning and digital initiatives, and research projects.

Designed to generate discussion and encourage collaboration, the library is open to members of the general public and students. Alongside its exhibitions and publications, the Institute also runs an artistic and visual arts education programme, consisting of lectures, workshops and seminars. The Institute has developed a consistent strategy of working with young people, aimed at extending the field of arts education to include wider cultural objectives such as social inclusion and personal development.

Iniva works predominately with British born and British based visual artists of African and Asian descent, supporting them at different stages of their careers. Many of those Iniva has worked with have gone on to change the course of art history, including Turner Prize winner and Chelsea alumnus Steve McQueen CBE, Turner Prize winner and Wimbledon alumna Lubaina Himid, Isaac Julien CBE, Idris Khan OBE, and David Medalla.

Some magazines from Stuart Hall Library
Magazines from Stuart Hall Library - Credit: Jason Grant

Now that they are located at Chelsea College of Arts, Iniva remains an independent organisation, but one which is committed to working with Chelsea and UAL to develop a long-term partnership that addresses post-colonial narratives, advancing research on race, culture and gender. This shared ambition means the 2 institutions will continue to facilitate critical debates by academics, students, local residents and the wider creative community, pursuing collaborations which will boost contemporary fine art practice at UAL and create inspirational new routes into fine art for students from diverse backgrounds.

This builds on work that Iniva has been delivering with schools and community groups, engaging children and young people in a creative learning programme that explores identity and values in creative workshops led by artists and psychotherapists.

A shelf of magazines in Stuart Hall library
A shelf of magazines in Stuart Hall library - Credit: Jason Grant

In addition to this, it was announced this summer that an Iniva Scholarship will be offered to a student of MA Curating and Collections at Chelsea from summer 2020, providing a contribution towards their course tuition fees and living expenses. Alongside the scholarship, Iniva welcomes staff, students and the public to engage with a myriad of opportunities to participate, from opportunities to volunteer, to art commissions, curatorial traineeships, internships and an annual artist’s residency.

This funded opportunity takes its lead from Professor Stuart Hall’s unique contribution to intellectual and cultural life. Artist Alicja Rogalska was awarded this year’s Stuart Hall Library Artist’s Residency, in partnership with the Stuart Hall Foundation. Rogalska’s proposed research project explored Stuart Hall’s ideas of citizenship through his writings on classification as fundamental to human culture and, simultaneously, as a system of power.

The research situated Stuart Hall’s work within the contemporary context of immigration law and global citizenship discourse utilising the Stuart Hall Library, itself, as a site of classification. The call out for the 2020 residency will be made in autumn 2019. Between May and September 2019, Iniva delivered 6 artist-led workshops using materials from the Stuart Hall Library collection that aim to celebrate cohesion, build pride in the community and help young people to realise their potential. This programme enabled them to develop new community relations within Westminster by welcoming new groups and individuals to the library.

As the new academic year begins, this engagement will only grow, with Iniva joining Chelsea College of Arts and Tate Britain to become part of a dynamic visual arts and cultural quarter growing around the Millbank and Vauxhall areas of London.

The Stuart Hall Library is open to everyone and membership is free.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm.

Visit Iniva's website to find out about the events taking place at Chelsea.