Tuesday, 15 September 2015

LITERARY AFTERNOON ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’ at Guildhall Art Gallery

Groundings:  Radical Readings from the Walter Rodney Bookshop at the Guildhall Art Gallery
A literary afternoon in the company of Britain’s leading Black publishers and writers


Sunday 27th September 2015 from 12.30pm – 4.30pm Admission:  £5.00 (plus booking fee) from Eventbrite

Throughout the tenure of its ground-breaking exhibition ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’ , one of the most comprehensive surveys of Black British cultural heritage and social history in recent years, the Guildhall Art Gallery is playing host to a series of scheduled accompanying events.  On Sunday 27th September, the gallery will be bringing together the key Black publishers and writers of the time for ‘Groundings: Walter Rodney Bookshop’, a unique opportunity to share stories, experiences of publishing and opinions regarding Black publishing in the future.

The Walter Rodney bookshop opened in Ealing, West London in 1975 by pioneering Black publisher and Black rights campaigner Eric Huntley, together with his wife Jessica. Originally called the Bogle L’Ouverture bookshop after Huntley’s publishing company, it was renamed in Walter Rodney’s honour after this Guyanese activist and scholar was assassinated in 1980. The bookshop hosted numerous meetings, talks and readings, which were known as ‘Groundings’ and became a cultural hub for like-minded literary and political activists, such as John La Rose, of New Beacon Bookshop. Between them, with ‘Race and Class’ journal, they created the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books, which took place between 1982 and 1995.

Highlights of the ‘Groundings’ literary event at Guildhall Art Gallery include:

  • A live interview with Eric Huntley by Dr. Margaret Andrews, chair of the Friends of the Huntley Archives and author of the acclaimed biography ‘Doing Nothing is Not an Option: The Radical Lives of Eric and Jessica Huntley’.
  • A fascinating insight by renowned artist and curator Dr Michael McMillan, into the process of recreating the multi-sensory, multi-visual Bogle-L’Ouverture Walter Rodney Bookshop which forms the centrepiece of the ‘No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990’ exhibition at the gallery.
  • ‘Publishing then, Publishing Now’: an open discussion with leading publishers of the era, including Arif Ali (Hansib Publications), Sarah White (New Beacon Books) as well as a conversation between Dr Michael McMillan, literary activist, live artist and poet Dorothea Smartt and Kadija (GeorgeSesay RSA, an award-winning literary activist, publisher and poet, on the community publishing output of the Centerprise Publishing Project in East London, which was founded by Black publisher Glenn Thompson in 1971.
​The afternoon will close with readings from leading contemporary Black poets:
  • John Lyons, one of the exhibiting artists in the ‘No Colour Bar’ exhibition, who published his first poetry collection ‘Lure of the Cascadura’ with Bogle L’Ouverture Publishing (1989) will be reading from this work and his latest books published by Peepal Tree Press and Cane Arrow Press.
  • Dorothea Smartt will be reading from her acclaimed chapbook, ‘Reader, I married him and other queer goings-on’ (published by Peepal Tree Press)She will also be sharing extracts from a new work based on archival research and a recent trip to Panama, which imagines the lives of West Indians as they moved from Barbados to work on the Panama Canal at the turn of the 20th century.
Books by and about all the publishers and speakers will be available for sale at the Guildhall Art Gallery.