Shades of Black

Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain

Edited by Ian Baucom, Sonia Boyce and David A. Bailey


In the 1980s - at the height of Thatcherism and in the wake of civil unrest and rioting in a number of British cities - the Black Arts Movement burst onto the art scene with breathtaking intensity, changing the nature and perception of British culture irreversibly. This book presents a history of that movement;  bringing together leading artists, curators, art historians, and critics, many of whom were actively involved, to debate how the work should now be viewed historically. Combining cultural theory with anecdote and experience, they consider the political, cultural, and artistic developments which sparked the movement whilst exploring the extent to which such a diverse body of work can be said to constitute a distinct artistic movement at all - particularly given that "black" in Britain in the 1980s encompassed those of South Asian, North and sub-Saharan African, and Caribbean descent, referring as much to shared experiences of disenfranchisement as to shades of skin. 

With contributions from Stanley Abe, Jawad Al-Nawab, Rasheed Araeen, David A. Bailey, Adelaide Bannerman, Ian Baucom, Dawoud Bey, Sonia Boyce, Allan deSouza, Jean Fisher, Stuart Hall, Lubaina Himid, Naseem Khan, susan pui san lok, Kobena Mercer, Yong Soon Min, Keith Piper, Zineb Sedira, Gilane Tawadros, Leon Wainwright and Judith Wilson