New exhibition and event: Celebrating 40 years of Black Art at Black Cultural Archives

New multimedia art exhibition Transforming Legacies to open at Black Cultural Archives spotlighting emerging Black artists

Charlie-Phillips-Piss-House-Pub-Portobello-Road-1969 © Charlie Phillips

As part of Black Futures Season, Black Cultural Archives (BCA) are spotlighting Black British artists through a series of new events and exhibitions.


With an ambition to document history and to create space for artists of Black heritage to come together and be celebrated, the BCA are orchestrating a significant photo moment similar to the 1958 ‘A Great Day in Harlem’. Following this, a new exhibition titled Transforming Legacies will open. On view until the 31st January, Transforming Legacies brings together both well-known and emerging artists to showcase the depths of talent and diversity within the Black art scene.

Embodying the message, our time is now, Black Futures Season is an urgent call to recognise the importance of understanding Black history in order to ensure continued momentum towards racial justice and a better future for all. A future where we recognise and support emerging talent in the Black community.

Transforming Legacies exhibition

28th October – 31st January | Black Cultural Archives, Brixton

CYSFM – Family 4 © Ryan Prince

Curated by Pacheanne Anderson Transforming Legacies brings together 21 emerging and established artists, and presents a reflection of the last 40 years of Black British art across multiple disciplines including painting, ceramics, film, and performance. The works exhibited will be commenting on life at present and exploring different versions of the future. Artworks from the likes of Ajamu, Karis Beaumont, Jaffar Aly and Enam Gbewonyo will feature in the exhibition.

Combining the strength of Black art across decades, the exhibition provides an opportunity to evaluate the way British art history is understood, shared, celebrated, and portrayed. Presented across several rooms, the exhibition is designed to allow visitors to journey through generations of Black art.

Pacheanne Anderson is a curator and writer whose practice prioritises the voices and careers of queer Black British and diaspora artists. Their work is centred around equity and diversity outside of institutional frameworks. For Transforming Legacies Pacheanne is focused on using the space to create a dynamic and sensory exhibition that will display art from some of the most talented artists within the Black British art scene.

Pacheanne Anderson says: “I am extremely honoured to have been commissioned as curator on this project. This exhibition for me encapsulates what it means to authentically reflect on the idea of Black British culture in an authentic way from a refreshing perspective that looks at past present and future but working with and in a community of local and diverse talent.”

A Great Day in Brixton

26th October | Black Cultural Archives, Brixton | attend via invitation only

Inspired by the iconic 1958 photograph, ‘A Great Day in Harlem’, ‘A Great Day in Brixton’ is a call to gather Black British visual artists for a large group photo moment. Displaying both emerging and well-known artists, this event will mark a time in history and celebrate the artists who exist in the Black community. Some artists in attendance on the day include Keith Piper, Simon Frederick, Heather Agyepong, Ronan Mckenzie and Hew Locke. The day will also recognise 40 years since the British Black Arts Movement began. The official group photograph will be captured by the incredible and renowned photographers Charlie Philips and Eddie Otchere.

Ronald “Charlie” Phillips (born 22 November 1944), also known by the nickname “Smokey”, is a Jamaican-born restaurateur, photographer, and documenter of black London. He is now best known for his photographs of Notting Hill during the period of West Indian migration to London; however, his subject matter has also included film stars and student protests, with his photographs having appeared in Stern, Harper’s Bazaar, Life and Vogue and in Italian and Swiss journals.

Hakim-Jamal-centre-Portobello-Road © Charlie Phillips

His work has been exhibited at galleries including Tate Britain, Museum of London, Nottingham’s New Art Exchange, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and Museum of the City of New York, and is also in collections at The Wedge, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), as well as the Tate.

Eddie Otchere is best known for his photographs of the seminal rappers and DJs of the mid 1990s and early noughties. His celebrated works include portraits of Biggie Smalls, Blackstar (Mos Def & Thalib Kweli) So Solid Crew, Est’elle, Goldie, Omar and many others, as well as his official coverage of the Metalheadz: Blue Note sessions 1994 -1996. Since 1993 Otchere’s photographs have been exhibited and published worldwide, including on the covers of major international magazines such as Urb, Lodown and Mixmag and on the covers of some of rap music’s seminal albums.

40 years since first National Black Art Convention

The 1982 National Black Art Convention inspired the launch of the British Black Arts Movement. It was a radical political art movement born out of anti-racist discourse and feminist critique. The purpose of the movement was to draw attention to issues of race and gender and the politics of representation. Notable individuals to emerge from this movement include Keith Piper, Sonia Boyce, David A. Bailey, Maud Sulter, and more.

Lisa Anderson, MD at Black Cultural Archives says: “BCA’s mission is to inspire and empower people through the power of Black British history. I hope this group photo can be the catalyst for people to relate to these phenomenal artists as portals to fascinating lived histories, and to explore the connections and absences between them. It’s my dream that this photo will enrich people’s understanding of art in the UK, for art lovers around the world, and in particular, for students and future artists.”