“We must become more involved with the visual output of our artists in the Caribbean, because they are going to change the real seeing of the world.” – Aubrey Williams
Located in the heart of Glasgow, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), welcomes more visitors than any other modern art gallery in Scotland.
As described on their blog, the vision of GoMA is “to be a place where people enrich their lives by engaging with the stories that art can tell and the experiences it can afford, inspiring vibrant conversations about the world we live in today.”
That is certainly the case for their latest exhibition: “AfroScots: Revisiting the Work of Black Artists in Scotland through New Collecting.”
This collection of work, spanning from the 1860s to our modern day, showcases a chronology of Black-Scottish artists who either lived, studied or travelled throughout Scotland at some point in their lives.
In collaboration with the independent curatorial duo, Mother Tongue, and the Glasgow Museums’ collection, the artwork of the exhibition “reflect[s] complex dialogues around race, post-colonial legacies, Empire and independence through the acquisitions, each of which brings with them wider socio-political narratives.”
The artists featured include Barby Asante, Tam Joseph, Donald Locke, Maud Sulter, Lisandro Suriel, Alberta Whittle, Aubrey Williams, Matthew Arthur Williams, and Ajamu X.
The term “AfroScots” is used to describe people of African and Black-Caribbean descent in Scotland.
The exhibition description notes, “Many of the artists included within this narrative did not stay permanently. This has been a factor in the lack of local recognition experienced by many Black artists included in ‘AfroScots,’ with their time in Scotland largely omitted from Black British art histories.”
A visitor to the exhibit, Josie Appleton, 22, called the collection “thought-provoking” and “powerful.”
“It’s very interesting to see such a collaboration of different places coming together to make such interesting art,” said Appleton.
The University of Glasgow student said that her favorite piece of the collection was the acrylic and sand art painting of a black cat titled, “Timespan,” created by Tam Joseph in 1987. The painting also features photos of Rameses the Great, Malcolm X and Joseph’s daughter.
“[Joseph] intended ‘Timespan’ to be a positive work about a hopeful leap forward in terms of racial equality and human rights,” according to GoMA’s description.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on the leaping forward,” said Appleton. “He did that piece for his daughter, so I thought that was good.”