By Jess Wilkinson, Second Year Philosophy
As part of their programme of events for Black History Month, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery hosted ‘Finding our Feet Once More’, an online event by BLACK* artists on the Move showcasing the work of Black artists across the globe.
Centred around the theme of Black resilience, both historic and contemporary, five Black artists working in a variety of disciplines were invited to showcase and discuss their work. This included poetry, music, dance, painting and a short drama performance. The variation in creative expression speaks to the abundance of work being created by Black artists, and the importance of recognising Black excellence across a variety of artistic disciplines.
Hosts Akulah Agbami and Judith Davis demonstrated exactly what BLACK* artists on the Move represents – a space to support and showcase the creations of Black artists.
With a friendly and informal style of hosting, the evening established itself with a relaxed character and a strong atmosphere of community. This helped create a safe space for artists to share their thoughts on vulnerable topics in their work and discussions that are often difficult to have. Not only did the event succeed in showcasing the talents of these artists, but also the need to create this community space for Black artists to feel comfortable and confident in expressing themselves.
Arinda Daphine began the evening with a dance she choreographed to tell the story of recovery from colonialism. Speaking on the importance of acknowledging this topic she said ‘the conversation of colonialism is one that has kept going on’, and not something we can forget about in today's society.
Calling the style a ‘free movement communicative piece’, Daphine explained how it was not restricted to a certain genre, reflective of the worlds transition to becoming homogenous beings. The opportunity to hear Daphine explain her dance was highly interesting, offering a depth of analyses to her work that might otherwise be missed.
Continuing to tackle crucial conversation topics, poet Neala Luna followed by reading several of her poems such as ‘Voices that Carry’, ‘Real Psycho Waterfall’ and my personal favourite ‘Bloodlines’.
Luna commented on how ‘Bloodlines’ reflected her thoughts on how the ‘pandemic changed the way we said goodbye’, highlighting the importance of thinking about the ways in which the pandemic has affected marginalised groups in society. Luna spoke of the importance of community in this resilience, learning from what her ancestors have directly and indirectly taught her. ‘The way they lived and what they sacrificed’ was of particular importance to her.
Serah Chibombwe followed with her video ‘Are You Brave Enough’, a short drama performance showing an artistic depiction of struggles in relationships through a fight between a man and woman in mud.
Luna made an insightful analysis of Chibombwe’s work, stating that the use of mud from an anthill speaks to importance of survival as a community, as ants rely heavily on this in their social structure. The chance to hear artists explanations of their own work was equally as interesting as hearing each artist offer their interpretations of each other's work, such as Luna’s analysis of the anthills here.
A series of experimental music/spoken word performances by Akadi Sankofa, who goes by the stage name ‘Trees with Roots’, showcased the importance of identity for black artists, and connecting with their roots and heritage in their artistic experiences. The thought-provoking lyrics exhibited Sankofa’s introspective nature as an artist, and the repetitive nature of his production served to emphasise his messages and identify his unique style of art.
Closing the evening, Melissa James performed several of her songs, my favourite being ‘Live Again’, that she wrote about a friends struggle with mental health.
James commented that she ‘had to write about somebody else in order to put that much honesty into it’, showcasing how she utilises her artistic expression to articulate both what she's going through, as well as those around her. She talked about the importance of sharing these stories with one another, and how we become stronger by sharing common ground and holding each other together.
Featured Image: Mind Locked by Serah Chibombwe courtesy of Fine Art America
What was your favourite piece in 'Finding Our Feet Once More'?