Tracing the lives and works of Black British painters, sculptors, photographers, mixed-media installation and performance artists from 1950 to the present day, Eddie Chambers’ Black Artists in British Art sheds unprecedented light on a myriad of social, political, historical, philosophical, cultural and artistic contexts.
Quoting Chambers in his review, Richard Cork asserts ‘British art itself has tended to keep black artists – both British born and immigrant – at arm’s length.’ The life of sculptor Ronald Moody underscores this. Arriving from Jamaica to the UK during the 1920s, Moody’s pioneering art was only acknowledged in 1989 at the Hayward Gallery’s landmark ‘The Other Story’. For Cork it is examples like this that demonstrate the much needed attempt to create a narrative in which Black artists take up their rightful place in British art history, and how Chambers absolutely succeeds in his argument that Black British artists have played, and continue to, a ‘distinguished part in the vitality of British art.’ Sadly we are too often unaware of it. ■