We are thrilled to announce that Historians of British Art have awarded ICF’s publication Liberation Begins in the Imagination: Writings on Caribbean British Art the HBA Book Award for an Exemplary Multi-Authored Book for 2023.
Liberation Begins in the Imagination is an essential anthology on Caribbean-British art, edited by David A. Bailey and Allison Thompson, which brings together existing writings and previously unpublished texts from the post-war period to the present, as well as revelatory new essays from some of the most influential voices on the subject.
Rasheed Araeen, Guy Brett, Manthia Diawara, Jean Fisher, Coco Fusco, Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, Wilson Harris, Claudia Jones, Roshini Kempadoo, George Lamming, John La Rose, Errol Lloyd, John Lyons, Amna Malik, Courtney J. Martin, Michael McMillan, Kobena Mercer, Richard J. Powell, Elizabeth Robles, Lou Smith, Helen Sumpter, Claire Tancons, Gilane Tawadros, Jessica Taylor, Allison Thompson, Anne Walmsley and Yvonne Weekes.
The jury said: “Liberation Begins in the Imagination is a vital and comprehensive volume that brings together key texts and new scholarship around Caribbean-British Art from the late twentieth century and into the present day. This rich chorus of voices is organized around three core themes: context, practice, and representation. This configuration allows Bailey and Thompson to feature not only those seminal essays which here provide the reader with important historical and scholarly context for the relationship between the anglophone Caribbean and British art histories during the post-war period (some of which are supplemented by new forwards) but also to look closely at a selection of individual artists and raise new questions around institutional systems of representation and the “illusion of inclusion.” Central to the book’s premise is the importance of disentangling the specificity of the Caribbean and its diasporas to complicate and enrich dialogues around Black British and British art histories more broadly.”
And purchase a volume of the publication signed by David A. Bailey here.
Liberation Begins in the Imagination was published by Tate Publishing and designed by Richard Mark Rawlins.
Today, around a million British people are of Caribbean descent, reflecting a history of post-war migration that essentially begins and ends with the Nationality Act of 1948 and the Immigration Act of 1972 – the so-called Windrush Generation. For many, London in particular was where the cultural archipelago of the Caribbean came together for the first time – communication and travel between the islands being difficult. This Caribbean-British connection gave rise to a diverse, complex and exciting wealth of Black cultural forms.
At one end of the spectrum, Caribbean-British art is abstract, symbolist and at times cosmological; at the other it is socially realist, with many other positions in between or off that spectrum. Where art is engaged with changes in society, it evokes a community’s struggle to forge an identity and livelihood for itself in an environment that often proved hostile. Other works evoke deeper historical experiences, in particular the traumatic after-images of plantation slavery and its legacy in culture and society.
This comprehensive volume brings together key writings on the interrelationship of Britain and the English-speaking Caribbean nations, focussing specifically on the art of the Caribbean diaspora in Britain from the 1920s to today. Combining classic writings with some newly commissioned contributions, it explores intersecting areas of Black- British cultural production and reflects the diversity of the Black-British experience. With contributions from a range of scholars, Liberation Begins in the Imagination is an invaluable sourcebook for those interested in the rich and diverse field of postcolonial Caribbean-British art.
‘Liberation Begins in the Imagination’ has been published to correspond with a major exhibition at Tate Britain ‘Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s – Now’, which has been co-curated by ICF’s Artistic Director David A. Bailey. The exhibition celebrates how people from the Caribbean have forged new communities and identities in post-war Britain – and in doing so have transformed what British culture and society looks like today. It includes work by over 40 artists including John Lyons, Paul Dash, Alberta Whittle, Aubrey Williams, Ada M. Patterson, Blue Curry, Denzil Forrester, Claudette Johnson and many others.