The launch of Disrupt Space Limited, through the company’s inaugural exhibition Conversations in Colour, raised some pertinent questions concerning Black arts in the UK as the company set-out a vision for a sustainable future.
“On Wed 9th October at 10am, the Disrupt Space team entered a virtually empty basement at Squire and Partners at the Department Store in Brixton and by 8pm that evening the exhibition was installed. We were ready.”
The very next day, 150 guests attended the launch, which included unveiling newly commissioned works of art. From the 10th – 14th of October, 400 people visited and took part in talks and presentations. About 50% of the art was sold, the website and hashtag #BlackArtsDisrupt was announced and the next time we looked, there were over 100 Instagram Followers.
To install a co-curated exhibition in a day; to deliver a riveting programme; to provide exposure for emerging artists; to situate Conversations in Colour at a prestigious architects firm; to enable community access to an iconic building; to facilitate these discussions; to ignite a stream of consciousness… is to deliver a mission.
The feedback has been tremendous and we definitely hit the spot but there’s a lot to ‘disrupt’. The lack of specific support for Black artists, cultural bias ingrained within mainstream arts institutions, concerns for who exactly profits from Black art, the lack of Black-owned galleries, the power dynamic and grant dependency syndrome experienced by the community with funders.
Against this backdrop, there’s a huge amount of powerful creativity taking place in the community. Art as consciousness, as energy, as message, …is in abundance with the potential to shift the narrative. From this perspective, a Black arts movement impacts on our daily lives. It has function within culture to affect change.
Through the work of our artists and the development of a growing audience, Disrupt Space sets-out to build a platform for social, cultural and economic capital. This was the colourful conversation over this 5 day programme, as we cut through the layers of bureaucracy and formality usually associated with the production of exhibitions.
It was great to see people come from near and far to respond to the call. Moving forward, we want to hear from visual artists, arts organisations, collectors and from corporates that want to work with us, as we build-on an existing audience within a rapidly changing global market.
Finally for now, the success of the event would not have been possible without the hard work of the entire team – all the contributors, supporters and attendees. Thank you all.
With Special Thanks to my fellow Disruptors, the Artists:
Sharon is a 23-year old self-taught artist whose art is a reflection of her mind. As she travels through her twenties, she aims to communicate the journey of her emotions, experiences and self-discovery through colour-rich, semi-abstract paintings focused on portraiture. Her pieces are created for self-reflection and release. A welcomed by-product is how people relate to her works of art and thought processes.
Marlon is also self-taught as a digital artist. He illustrates stories through his art. He started drawing from an early age and has always loved the feeling of zoning-out to depict the thoughts and ideas floating around in his head. From 2015 he started doing digital art instead of traditional drawing. Much of his inspiration comes from Rnb, Soul, Rap or spoken word. Marlon works with the sentiments that come to him when listening to a track; one’s that mean a lot to him that he uses for inspiration. He produces a number of signed, born-digital limited editions.
Lola is better known by the moniker ‘Labet’, a self-taught Nigerian-British visual artist whose works have hugely been influenced by movements such as expressionism and fauvism. Lola draws influence from her rich Nigerian heritage and explores themes within feminine identity and cultural pride. Acrylic on canvas has been her main choice of medium in creating her deeply expressive works, with particular focus on her use of vibrant colours, bold patterns and multiple textures. Passionate about current affairs, fashion, literature, music and travel, Lola uses each avenue as a stimulus to create positive cultural representations with her paintings and illustrations.
Gus is an artist who explores themes that humans have engaged with since conception. His work unifies his passion for philosophy and art; combining pillars that transcend nations and time. Inspired by the ancient world, fascinated by religion and compelled to study mankind and creation, Gus consistently pays reverence to nature and life; underpinned by the notion that the things we create are but mirror imitations of a more perfect Creation. He presents on canvas, board and… on skateboards.
Nathan Bowen is a guerrilla street artist. He actively works as an art vigilante, seeking-out dull, lifeless spaces around London. He describes himself as the ‘Artistic Gangster’ when it comes to street art. By openly using his imagination he transforms neglected spaces to create new and inspiring works of art. His style is unique, fast, dynamic and unpredictable. His signature characters known as ‘The Demons’ invade building site hoardings all over London, using the streets as his own gallery.
Alvin is an artist whose works undoubtedly sits on its own when it comes to capturing the vision of a contemporary African-Caribbean expression. He quickly established his reputation as one of the UK’s leading Black artists, having produced the first independent commercial prints collection. Working across a variety of mediums, his work displays a strong graphic execution, where he quite comfortably plays with the more traditional mediums – such as oil’s, acrylic and mixed media. His fascination with the human form is evident in his work and its connection with the Motherland and its traditional cultures, but he is also conscious of and displays the present day dilemmas of diaspora Africans in the narratives of his work.
Terry’s work is conceptual and circles around Ancestry as he seeks to search, listen, process, connect and communicate. The mediums employed include sculptural, installation, photography, film, drawing, painting, printmaking, digital media, sound art, graphics, writing and poetry. ‘Guardians of the Spoken Heard’ is a series of paintings and prints that form part of his growing collection of art works.
Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, Adisa Stephen-Ezeocha, Justina Kehinde, Adetunji Akintokun MBE, Keith Magee, Suhair Khan, Martin Barnett, Charlotte Evans, Keith Bonnick, Nicholas Cheffings, Damian Ching, Esther Collins, Femi Solomon-Cooper, Millie Gracehall.
Sponsors and Supporters
Squire and Partners, London Borough of Lambeth, Llesha Charitable Trust, Scott Fleary Productions, Jamaica National (JN Bank), The Voice and Brixton Bid.