Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Christabel Johanson

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African Culture Through The Lens

Photography therefore also has the potential to present a reality divorced from the artist’s bias so as to challenge the prejudices of history. The objects in front of the lens must be decoded and contextualised as part of a wider civilisation and context. This is especially true for tribal African cultures.

Christabel Johanson on the representation of Africa through photography.
Kara man painted and adorned for courtship, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

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The influence of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair


The very fact that 1-54 exists sends a huge message out to emerging black artists and we get to see important and interesting works expressing a dialogue that we can relate to and can understand. Because 1-54 attracts a broad audience it provides an amazing platform and has an incredible reach.

Christabel Johanson in conversation with participants of the 1:54

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Aubrey Williams and the Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM)

AubreyWilliamsSun Hieroglyph

As powerful and impactful as Williams’ work was at the time – and as successful as he was as a solo artist – it is in relation to his work and service within the CAM that we can appreciate the movement as an act of political and social change. Through the members own creative talents CAM drove for a better representation of Caribbean life, art and community. Outwardly it reflected the culture of the time; it rebelled against white supremacy in Britain, brought its own flavour from back home and together sought to merge the two – much like the ethos of the Notting Hill Carnival.

Christabel Johanson about Aubrey Williams and the Caribbean Artists Movement
Sun Hieroglyph, 1983, ©Aubrey Williams Estate. Photo: Jonathan Greet

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Notting Hill Carnival

NottingHillPeterMinshall costume design

After the 1958 race riots, there was an effort to heal the rift between the black and white communities. From that intention, those immigrants from Trinidad, St Lucia, Jamaica and other countries established the Carnival, bringing through the influences and flair from back home. The first Carnival was held on 30th January 1959 in St Pancras Town Hall under the organisation of political activist Claudia Jones. Jones founded The West Indian Gazette, the UK’s first black newspaper, and the carnival was televised by the BBC in an aid to build bridges in Britain.

Christabel Johanson: How Notting Hill Carnival was meant to heal the rift between the black and white communities
Carnival costume designed by Peter Minshall Read more »

The Artwork of Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga

Fragile 2_small sRGB_170cm x 150cm, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 2018

My paintings are also a testimony to the beauty and intelligence of pre-colonial societies and a tribute to how these societies were organised. The way in which I place these societies in relation to the present is rather like tracing a traditional and cultural knowledge that was crushed by the rise of industrial power.

Christabel Johanson meets Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga in London

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