The Blk Art Group Research Project (2012) has been set up to engage in renewed reflection and examination of the historical and cultural moment of the early 1980’s. This was in period in the UK which saw a flourishing of cultural and creative art activity amongst a generation of young practitioners of Afro-Caribbean, Asian and African descent, against a backdrop of a wider set of social and political transformations of British society as a whole. Within this context, the ‘Blk Art Group’ existed from 1979-1984 as a shifting alliance of young visual artists who could be described as ‘children of the Windrush generation’, and whose political orientation and creative philosophies were in may respects illustrative of the shifting patterns, influences and alliances which characterised the era.
The timing of the setting up of The Blk Art Group Research Project (2012) is key. Brought together by three original members of the Blk Art Group, this Project is timed to mark the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the ‘First National Black Art Convention’, which was organised by the Group and took place at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in October 1982. The Convention is often cited as a key moment in the evolution of what has come to be described as the British ‘Black Art Movement’ of the 1980’s , providing as it did the initial meeting point of a number of the movements key practitioners, as well as providing a forum within which many of era’s key philosophical and strategic debates around practice would initially emerge. Also, in retrospect, it becomes timely to interweave the evolution of these key debates around creative practice with the evolution of the British model of ‘Multiculturalism’ for which 1982, date of the publication of the Scarman Report is seen as a pivotal year.
In order to mark and appraise these complex and intertwined histories, we would like to establish a set of virtual and physical forums and spaces within which the extensive, but to date under examined, archival record of the Blk Art Group in particular, as well as related materials generated by the wider and contemporaneous ‘Black Art Movement’, can be accessed, scrutinised and discussed by scholars, artists, historians, students and cultural theorists. It is envisioned that this evolving scholarly activity should be focused towards a major international conference scheduled to take place at the University of Wolverhampton in October 2012, which could in turn lead to the publication of major anthology of essays examining the creative and cultural moment of the 1980’s.
The rationale and context for the setting up of an e-archive and on-line forum is therefore firmly located within this wider project, although the e-archive clearly has the potential for autonomous evolution and developing significance as a space for accessing of digital and archival material, as well engaging in on-line debate and reflection around this important historical epoch.
The Success & Failure of Black Art’ Rasheed Arareen,
Third Text 067. Volume 18, Issue 2, March 2004