Diaspora is the inaugural season of world class art and creative happenings marking Bristol's year of change and the UN International Decade for People of African Descent. The DIASPORA Season of Art and Understanding will be taking place in Bristol between 11 October and 27 December 2018 at venues all over Bristol. We are delighted to welcome artists from Mauritius, as guests of honour. Mauritius celebrates 50 years of independence from Britain this year and it feels appropriate to have an exploration of how British colonialism has shaped one island nation and how this resonates in artists work today.
Commencing on 11 October with the high profile and highly symbolic visit by Dr Julius Garvey, the season comprising exhibitions, debates, spoken word events, theatre and dance performances, symposia and an art fair, will stretch until late-December. A two and a half month long programme may seem ambitious – but we have deliberately selected a period which straddles BLACK* History Month, a time of year when people have been programmed to expect a rich menu of great BLACK* art. An art fair of exceptional BLACK* artwork in November to coincide with a time when families are on the look out for great ideas for Christmas makes perfect commercial sense.
It is really hard to find brilliant and affordable BLACK* art works (and crafts) but these are definitely something that BLACK* families in particular – though not exclusively – will pay for – consequently this initiative very much forms a major commercial block for the whole of our programme.
We will be featuring work from artists all over the world through our GLOBALEX programme. Work will be displayed on the giant screen in Millennium Square. The full confirmed programme will be available by early September - so watch this space and then head to Funzing to reserve your tickets.
Akeim Toussaint Buck, UK-based dancer and spoken word artist and Cameron Fisher produced this haunting piece as their collaboration.
Two days into my British Council visit to Mauritius and I meet Corinne Camille. She is the third artist I encounter and she reiterates what is starting to become a familiar story. If you’re an artist in Mauritius, you have an incredible struggle on your hands. There is no state support for artists. With luck, you might get one or two private contracts. Corinne has worked in hotels, and tried to sell tourists t shirts, bags, glasses. It’s difficult to find your own form of expression. She was commissioned to do what is known as ‘live painting’ in upmarket restaurants and then she could paint what she wanted and occasionally sold a piece of work.
But more often than not, a tourist manager will order specific types of work, right down to the colour scheme, buy it from Corinne for a pittance and then sell it for five times the price paid.
We deplore this exploitation of artists and are actively working with local people to re-evaluate the place of art in Mauritius and the way artists are treated. Oh, and by the way, congratulations to the island for celebrating 50 years of independence from the UK.
For the next two months, BLACK* artists on the move are proud to feature Mauritian artists and to shine a light on their immense talent and the challenges they face.
Written by Akulah Agbami
Corinne Camille, painter and visual artist.