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The Blk Art Group

Donald Rodney, Britannia Hospital 3, 1988 © Estate of Donald Rodney.
Saturday 27 August 2011 - Saturday 24 March 2012

The Blk Art Group was formed in the early 1980s by a radical group of young black artists.

At a time when the Conservative government was outspokenly anti-immigrant, the British National Party was on the rise and the Brixton riots were shaking London, the Blk Art Group emerged as a creative force in Britain. The artists in this movement responded to the crises in race relations both at home and overseas by making work which was defiant and thought-provoking.

This exhibition will feature significant works by Donald Rodney, Keith Piper and Eddie Chambers which were acquired for Sheffield during the 1980s, but which have rarely been seen since, including work from Rodney’s Britannia Hospital series and Piper’s Black Assassin Saints. The exhibition will also see work from Marlene Smith and Claudette Johnson on display. The Blk Art Group will explore the important role that regional galleries, including Sheffield’s, played in supporting and promoting black British art at a time when many public art institutions were reluctant to engage with the political subject matter.

Keith Piper has compiled a scrapbook documenting the Blk Art Group’s activities throughout 1983. It gives a remarkable insight into the mood, politics and even the design of the British artworld in the mid 80's, and some of the press commentary and racist visitor comments are extraordinary. Read it online here