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About

diaspora-artists.net was initiated by Eddie Chambers, as part of an ongoing project to research, collate and archive material relating to Black artists in Britain and elsewhere. The project was initially developed in collaboration with Watershed and the Digital Cultures Research Centre at the University of the West of England, Bristol, with some support from Arts Council England. For a period of time, additional funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), enabled Karen Di Franco to join the project as Assistant Curator. Karen took a lead role in digitising and cataloguing the archive’s material and developing the diaspora–artists.net web site.

This web site presents, through a searchable database, all the material that has been digitised to date. This project is very much seen as ongoing, with new material being added to the collection on a daily basis.

Collection

The content viewed within this web site is drawn from the personal collection held by Eddie Chambers, relating to the visual arts practices of artists from African/African-Caribbean/South Asian and other diasporas. This collection has been ongoing since 1985.

Curatorial Overview

One of the most interesting features of British art history since the post World War II period has been the presence of increasing numbers of artists who have come into Britain from other parts of the world, such as Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. But despite career successes and various levels of visibility, many of these artists remained, arguably, primarily associated with the countries or regions of the world from which they came, rather than the country to which they migrated and in which they practised, for lesser or greater periods of time. By the later part of the 20th century new generations of British artists – for the most part, the sons and daughters of immigrants - were, like the pioneering generations before them, active in both the studio and the gallery. Again, despite career successes and various levels of visibility, many of these younger artists arguably remained primarily associated with the idea of difference – be that difference constructed around race, colour, culture, identity, experience, or whatever.

With only limited exceptions, for both generations of artists, what has in effect been a marginalising of their work has meant that Britain’s art histories often run along self-referencing, or mutually exclusive lines. diaspora-artists.net seeks to challenge this by two principle means. Firstly, in its overall construction it avoids the use of identity labels that have, arguably, served to disassociate certain artists from the mainstream of visual arts activity in Britain. So this is not a Black artists’ web site. Nor is it a web site dedicated to artists of African, Asian or Caribbean background practising in Britain. It is instead a site dedicated to the histories of artists from a broad range of diasporic backgrounds who practised (and in many instances, continue to practice) in Britain. Some of these artists were born here, some were brought up here, and some came as art students or as practising artists. Because the site’s emphasis is on diaspora, it includes, but is by no means limited to, those artists whose apparent, perceived or indeed declared difference has tended to disconnect them from (rather than connect them to) wider British art histories. diaspora-artists.net seeks to emphasise a global interplay from which relatively few artists – British or otherwise – are exempt.

Secondly, the site seeks to present information and material on its artists in expansive and integrated ways. So users of the site will notice that information and material is presented in broader rather than narrower contexts. This in effect creates a networking, an exchange, a cross-referencing that at all times seeks to place any given artist or any given piece of information, into an expansive, rather than a reductive, range of contexts. In so doing, the site attempts not only to acknowledge what artists, curators, writers, and others have themselves attempted to do, in their contributions to visual arts activity and documentation. diaspora-artists.net also seeks to create an invaluable feel for the specific or broader context in which this activity was undertaken.

Credits

Project Leader | Curator: Eddie Chambers
Digital Development | Watershed: Paddy Uglow

Contact

If you would like to contact the project, or to donate material, contact details are as follows:

Eddie Chambers
Diaspora-Artists.net

10 Caiystane Avenue, Edinburgh, EH10 6SE, United Kingdom

E: eddie@eddiechambers.com

User Feedback

If you have any comments you would like to make about the Diaspora-Artists project then please email eddie@eddiechambers.com. Throughout November 2009 we opened out the feedback process with a blog – to see the dialogue that took place please go to: http://diasporafeedback.wordpress.com.

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