British artists recreate ‘A Great Day in Harlem’ photo for Black History Month | black history month


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

The South London-based Black Cultural Archives will commemorate the occasion by paying homage to the classic 1958 photography A Great Day in Harlem by curating a group photograph featuring black artists who were part of the original movement alongside of emerging talent.

The National Black Art Convention, which in 1982 inspired the launch of Britain’s black arts movement, propelled the careers of many artists, including Keith Piper and Sonia Boyce.

Lisa Anderson, chief executive of the Black Cultural Archives, said the decision to recreate the photograph to celebrate the 40th anniversary since the launch of Britain’s black arts movement was due to a desire to “document the community”.

She added: “I want to celebrate community and I 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 in the black community.”

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

“We’re borrowing the concept because we haven’t seen any photography that documents black British visual artists, and I think it will help people go and research it further and engage with its story, and also inspire people to pursue their passion for the visual arts.

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

“There is a missing gap in our history because not much has been documented by us, for us,” Phillips said.

Also this month, Brent Council will unveil a new piece of public art in one of its parks, to commemorate the victims of the transatlantic slave trade following scrutiny over the park’s name. in honor of a former British Prime Minister linked to the slave trade.

The work, titled The Anchor, The Drum, The Ship, was commissioned after Gladstone Park, named after former Prime Minister William Gladstone, was identified for consideration in 2020 as part of the Diversity Commission in the public domain, who reviewed the statues, street names and landmarks to ensure they reflect London’s rich and diverse history and represent all Londoners.

Flowerbeds in Gladstone Park in the shape of the Akan symbol for a drum, ship and anchor evoking themes of migration and belonging. Photography: Harun Morrison Azul De Monte

Gladstone’s father, who was one of the largest slaveholders in the Caribbean, received the largest of all compensation payments from the Slave Compensation Commission.

Linett Kamala, director of the Notting Hill Carnival and founder of Lin Kam Art, who will unveil the artwork, said that as well as commemorating the victims of the slave trade, it represented “the huge and fantastic contribution that the black community has brought”. in the district”.

Kamala added: “The park has a number of murals, but there is nothing that reflects the transatlantic slave trade, although the park is named after [after] the Prime Minister’s father who received the largest [slavery] payment of compensation. »

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

Harun Morrison wearing a cap
Harun Morrison designed the garden landscape to open questions to people who encounter the mural in the park. Photography: James Allan

Harun Morrison, the artist behind the mural, said he was interested in creating an installation that “opened up questions to someone who encountered it in the park without being overly prescriptive.

“I was also trying to create a view 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 will host events celebrating black Scottish art and culture.

The event, titled Our Stories Between the Myths and Memories, was programmed by Scottish-Zimbabwean artist Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, and will feature works by artists and creators from across Scotland’s African diaspora.

Thembiso Ruwona said: “I am truly delighted to be able to bring together so many brilliant creative practitioners from the Scottish African Diaspora in one space and celebrate their contributions to the creative sector.

She added: “This project is about our past, our present and our potential future which examines the history, culture and identity of Black Scots. It is also a timely event that will highlight the work that David Livingstone Birthplace is doing as he considers the role of museums in truthful storytelling, asking important questions about legacy and memory.


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