Wall texts for Thin Black Line(s) Gallery 5 Tate Britain 2011-2012 with links for further information
Claudette Johnson born 1959 England
Her early large-scale pastel drawings on paper depict black women as monoliths, larger than life. She drew close women acquaintances, friends and family. Johnson’s work developed into ‘a journey in search of a rhythmic wholeness of spirit mind and body. Her practice has been described as ‘the burial and unburial’ of women.
Work acquired by Arts Council England, Mappin Sheffield, Manchester Galleries, Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Ingrid Pollard born 1953 Guyana
She played an important role in early 1980s photography, documenting black people’s creativity and presence in Britain. Pollard became known for her photographic series questioning social constructs such as Britishness or racial difference. While investigating race, ethnicity and public spaces she has developed a body of work juxtaposing landscape and portraiture which provide a context for issues of migration, family and home.
She is an Associate Research Fellow at CUCR, Goldsmiths, University of London.
Work acquired by Arts Council England, V&A, Cartwright Hall Bradford, GNER, National Museum of Film and Photography, National Trust.
Maud Sulter born 1960 Scotland, died 2008
Her early work incorporated photography, newspaper cuttings and texts, both her own and others’. She focused on poetry, prose and journalism. Later within this personal/political context Sulter created several photographic series including ZABAT, which combined her poetic texts with portraits of contemporary creative women to explore ideas around the muse. Her final works included a reframing of Jeanne Duval, a French-Haitian actress and Baudelaire’s lover, and a series of portraits of Scottish cultural figures.
Work acquired by Arts Council England, British Council, V&A, Birmingham, Rochdale and National Museums Scotland.
Lubaina Himid born 1954 Zanzibar
Himid trained as a theatre designer. Her early drawings and cut- outs explored the absence/presence of the black figure in European painting. This work developed into a dialogue about the search for belonging. Other paintings addressed the difference between safety and danger. Himid campaigns for the recognition of the black diaspora’s cultural contribution through projects based in museum collections.
She was awarded the MBE in 2010 and is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire Preston.
Work acquired by Tate, V&A, Arts Council England, Birmingham Gallery and Museum, Manchester Museums, Harris Art Gallery Preston, Rochdale Art Gallery.
Sonia Boyce born 1962 England
Her early pastel drawings were concerned with domestic life and recollections of the family home. She explored a moment when ‘art seemed capable of changing our perceptions of social relations, value and political agency (including its aesthetics)’. Boyce’s later work around history and legacy, film and popular culture, developed into collaborative explorations of the representation of cultural difference. Her recent practice is one in which chance and improvised collaborations are realised through the creative participation of others.
She was awarded the MBE in 2007.
Work acquired by Tate, Arts Council England, V&A, Government Art Collection, British Council.
Sutapa Biswas born 1962 India
Her early work in pastel and paint was satirical and insisted upon a multiplicity of meanings. It attempted to reassess, question and rewrite forms of history which ‘belong’ to imperialism. Later through drawing, painting, film and video, photography and performance, Biswas tackled issues of gender identity and desire and has begun exploring narrative structure in the contexts of drawing and film.
She is a Reader in Fine Art and Cultural Studies at Chelsea College of Art and Design,
Work acquired by Cartwright Hall, Museums Bradford, Arts Council England. Leicester City Museums; Oldham City Art Gallery; Graves Gallery, Museums Sheffield, Reed College, Portland, USA; Artists Pension Trust, New York, USA.
Veronica Ryan born 1956 Montserrat
In her early work she attempted to establish a sense of place, historically, culturally and psychologically. Ryan described her sculpture, inspired by her collection of natural objects, as having a direct parallel with the diverse ways in which human behaviour is expressed.
While working at Tate St Ives with marble donated by the Hepworth Estate, she continued to experiment with abstract forms. She uses a range of materials and textures, combining hard and soft, cool and hot.
Work acquired by Tate, Arts Council England.