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Black History Month

For Black History Month in October, we’re spotlighting some fantastic artists, musicians, theatre companies as well as resources for Black creatives.

Theatre and Dance

Image: The Head Wrap Diaries by Uchenna Dance, streaming online 16th-22nd October 2020 via Rural Touring Dance Initiative.

Below are some links to Black theatre and dance companies, many of which are based in Yorkshire.

Phoenix Dance Theatre

Northern School of Contemporary Dance


Learn about Black artists and the stories behind their work.

Lubaina Himid

Lubaina Himid CBE (born 1954) is a British artist and curator. She is a professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire. Her art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities.

Himid was one of the first artists involved in the UK’s Black Art movement in the 1980s and continues to create activist art which is shown in galleries in Britain, as well as worldwide. Himid was appointed MBE in June 2010 for “services to Black Women’s Art” won the Turner Prize in 2017 and was made a CBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours “for services to art.” (Bio via Wikipedia)

In the past we looked at the work of Lubaina Himid in our Art Club for ages 6-16. Inspired by her work, our young artists created their own cardboard cutouts, each depicting a famous artist’s work. See it below.


Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988) was an American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent. Basquiat first achieved fame as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s, where rap, punk, and street art coalesced into early hip-hop music culture.

Basquiat’s art focused on dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a tool for introspection and for identifying with his experiences in the black community of his time, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism. Basquiat’s visual poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle. (Bio via Wikipedia)

Untitled, 1948 Jean-Michel Basquiat

Untitled, 1948 (source)

Video: Ted-Ed – The chaotic brilliance of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – Jordana Moore Saggese

Yinka Shonibare

Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA (born 1962) is a British-Nigerian artist living in the United Kingdom. His work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation. A hallmark of his art is the brightly coloured Ankara fabric he uses. Because he has a physical disability that paralyses one side of his body, Shonibare uses assistants to make works under his direction.

Shonibare’s work explores issues of colonialism alongside those of race and class, through a range of media which include painting, sculpture, photography, installation art, and, more recently, film and performance. He examines, in particular, the construction of identity and tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. Mining Western art history and literature, he asks what constitutes our collective contemporary identity today. Having described himself as a ‘post-colonial’ hybrid, Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions. (Bio via Wikipedia)


Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (London, 2010) by Yinka Shonibare during its occupancy of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square (source)

Kara Walker

Kara Elizabeth Walker (born 1969) is an American contemporary painter, silhouettist, print-maker, installation artist, and film-maker who explores race, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity in her work.

Walker is best known for her panoramic friezes of cut-paper silhouettes, usually black figures against a white wall, which address the history of American slavery and racism through violent and unsettling imagery. She has also produced works in gouache, watercolor, video animation, shadow puppets, “magic-lantern” projections, as well as large-scale sculptural installations like her ambitious public exhibition with Creative Time called A Subtlety (2014). The black and white silhouettes confront the realities of history, while also using the stereotypes from the era of slavery to relate to persistent modern-day concerns. Her exploration of American racism can be applied to other countries and cultures regarding relations between race and gender, and reminds us of the power of art to defy conventions. (Bio via Wikipedia)


Listen to Black and British artists in this YouTube playlist by Vevo



Digital Arts Platform championed under represented creatives – For T’Culture

Black Gold Exhibition by Pinterest

Black Artists Grant by Creative Debuts

Opportunities for writers and illustrators of colour by Book Trust

Black British Visual Artists, an arts and education organisation

Lungs Project


Black History Month Website – online and regional events

Tue 13th October, 2pm: Harrogate Library Facebook page – Unconscious Bias, a talk by Tina Shingler

Fri 16th – Thu 22nd October: Dance show The Head Wrap Diaries by Uchenna Dance streaming via Rural Touring Dance Initiative

Throughout October: Pinterest – Celebrating British Black History Month