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Aubrey Williams/Creation for Liberation seminar transcript

Transcript relating to a conference, 1987
Year published: 1987
Number of pages: 41

image of Aubrey Williams/Creation for Liberation seminar transcript

Programmed to coincide with Creation for Liberation’s Open Exhibition at Brixton Village, 17 October - 7 November 1987 was a seminar titled, Seeking a Black Aesthetic. It was described as a forum to “be led by Aubrey Williams and chaired by Errol Lloyd. Aubrey will cast a critical look at the artistic output of black artists in Britain, followed by a question and answer period. His talk will be preceeded (sic) by the showing of the film The Mark of the Hand produced by Imruh ‘Bakari’ Caesar.” Note, Caesar was actually the film’s director.

The event took place on Thursday 29 October 1987, at 7pm, in the Theatre of Brixton Village.

This is an invaluable, immeasurably important transcript of the seminar proceedings. This vintage copy, likely to have been produced shortly after the 1987 seminar, has extensive handwritten annotations on the front (page 1) and on the back. The notes were not related to the Williams seminar, and the ones on the front page have been redacted with correcting fluid.

The transcript is of a recording on two cassettes. SIDE ONE of the recording covers pages 1 - 18, and pages 19 - 39 cover side two of the first cassette. Pages 40 and 41 of the transcript relate to Tape two, side one

Contents as follows:

Introduction - Errol Lloyd, pages 1 - 3

Main address - Aubrey Williams, pages 3 - 10

Question/answer/discussion period, pages 10 - 41.

The document is a faithful and precise transcription, and the word “inaudible” appears whenever the tape recording failed to pick up dialogue.

From the transcript:

(Errol LLoyd): “So many familiar faces. Well, certainly a lot of visual artists as well, people I recognise who have made a contribution over the years in the general area of aesthetic and theoretical as well as practical side of art. We’ve just seen the film ‘MARK OF THE HAND’ which I’m sure you all feel gives a very good insight into Aubrey’s work and his life. And I’m sure that you will agree with me that (-) should be congratulated on the mammoth effort I’m sure we all realise in getting the funds together to make that film. And in all the various problems related to raising funds for films, and it’s a great shame that we turn our televisions on so often and see so much rubbish and Channel 4 still haven’t got around to showing this film which I (sic) sure would go down very well, not just with the black community by (sic) much further afield. Having seen the film for the second time, I’m really struck by the contribution that Aubrey’s pronouncements make during the course of the film. It’s something which can easily wash over you when you see the film for the first time. Because you tend to be looking for a visual excitement all the time, because you get a (-) on a visual artist and that is your perception in a way when you go. But having sat through it again the second time, I think that we’re very fortunate to have Aubrey with us tonight to perhaps elaborate on some of the things which he said during the course of the film, which of course the film doesn’t offer as much time as even the seminar will offer for that.” (pages 1/2)

Aubrey Williams: First, I would hope that we are here tonight to investigate a black aesthetic. What is this black aesthetic? And the film is important in our meeting here tonight in that it gives you some idea into my mind and my emotional, psychic and historical form. But you might have noticed in the film, no mention of my black forebears. This is purposeful, in that I know even if the onlooker doesn’t that my work is dominated by my black roots. And I don’t have to express that verbally. My emphasis upon the pre-Columbian influences in my work was specifically because that area of earth is what I came out of. And I have never had the urge to indulge in the synthetic quest for a roots system by investigating my African past. I feel that where we are is where everything is happening and our strength comes out of the earth under our feet. Okay? So my formative years were spent in that country and I know that my art has come out of my formative years in that country. I know that I pay respect and attention to my African roots whenever I work, whenever I laugh, whenever I talk, whenever (sic) breathe in and breathe out and live. So I don’t have to purposefully project that.” (pages 3/4)

The ensuing question/answer/discussion was particularly animated and reflected much of the frustrations, arguments and forceful opinions held by a number of artists and others in attendance at the seminar.

The first question from the floor was: “I have come in this country and I can appreciate the deep qualities for black people, people of black culture (---) I can really appreciate the problem and it is a great one. And when I saw the film and you were going back or returning to Guyana and - well, I can say I really congratulate you for - how much you did, forty years.”

Related people

»  Errol Lloyd

Born, 1943 in Jamaica

»  Aubrey Williams

Born, 1926 in Georgetown, Guyana. Died, 1990

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Brixton Village, Brixton Hill

London, United Kingdom