The Barrage House at the Southbank Centre is playing host to the African & African-Caribbean Design Diaspora Festival, displaying art from a range of illustrators, designers and painters from African and Africa-Caribbean Diaspora communities the world over.
The British and European Design Group, who support emerging talented artists of African and African-Caribbean origin within the UK mainstream design industry, are able to do so through a three-year African and African-Caribbean Design Diaspora Initiative, which is partnered up with the London Design Festival.
In conjunction with Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s Thames Festival, the AACDD Festival 2011, will for the next three weeks, provide a series of events and exhibitions presenting multiple disciplines including fine art, photography, graphic design, home textiles and interior design to name a few.
With over 100 submissions from artists spanning the globe; Africa, the UK, USA, the Caribbean, Japan, Canada and Europe, the exhibition promised a wealth of unique and dynamic pieces with London being the chosen location to present the cause.
Spread out across three floors in the rustic Barge House, situated in the Oxo Tower Wharf complex, a wealth of art was presented for the many art and culture enthusiasts who were in attendance.
Illustrator and graphic designer Berjo Mouanga paid reverence to some of the most well-known black film makers. Entitled ‘African & Diaspora Cinema’ Mouanga displayed his designs of Spike Lee, Raoul Peck and Ralph Nwadke on T-Shirts and bed sheets.
Fine artists Nicola Agyeman Frimpong’s designs explored a range of taboo subject in the most attention grabbing of ways. ‘Nicola’s story. What racism did to me’ compiled a series of illustrations which tackled a discourse of sex, violence and racism.
While Adjani Okpu Egbe’s ‘Unshackled brains’ colourful and vibrant and visually moving piece contained the names of great African leaders such as Martin Luther King and Marcus Garvey. Making a political protest was somewhat of a familiar theme as evident through UK illustrator Jeremy Salmon’s painting, used to protest against the incarceration of Malachi K. York, leader of the Nuwaubianism Nation.
With specific reference to the UK, The Below the Surface project aimed to shed light on real life for African and Africa-Caribbean communities living in London. A tool for young people, especially those on the edge of society or who have been socially excluded, the pictures worked as a story-teller, presenting to those outside of these communities what they do not see.
Natalie Keymist used a quote as inspiration for her images from writer Stuart Hall ‘I became “black” when in London’ in which he described his experience of the Windrush Movement during the early 1950’s, where West Indian migrants arrived in Britain. In Keymist’s quest to define what it means to be black and British, she concluded that such definitions usually involved important black movements in history such as slave trade and civil rights movement.
Many of the designs were visually arresting, especially Lawar Munroe’s Horse and Bird specimen which was simultaneously haunting and magical, ethereal but grotesque. Similarly Jonathan Hagos explored post colonial themes through installations showcasing a structure of popcorn pieces and small cups of coffee held up by wire.
For anyone interested in not only black art, but art in general make your way to Southbank where the exhibition is taking place from 9-25 September, for what promises to be an insightful and FAB event.
For more information please visit www.aacdd.org