The summer has finally arrived here in London - what better time to visit all the summer exhibitions at the London Museums. A must-see, in my opinion, is Get Up Stand Up Now at Somerset House, which features our fabrics!
Get Up Stand Up Now celebrates the impact of 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond featuring art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion. For the first time, a distinguished group of 100 artists is represented together with their work addressing the Black experience and sensibility from the post-war era to the present day.
Curated by multi-disciplinary artist Zac Ové, the son of Trinidadian born photographer Horace Ové whose black and white photographs are on display throughout the exhibition, Get Up Stand Up Now brings together historic artworks and new commissions alongside items from personal archives, much of which has never been seen by the public before. Through these original photographs, letters, film and audio clips, Get Up Stand Up Now connects the creative, the personal and the political reflecting how the artists have responded to the issue of their times.
One of the show’s opening works includes award-winning time maker Steve McQueen’s Remember Me, his first work conceived in neon and consisting of three handwritten versions of its title. Originally made in the wake of Mc Queen’s film installation Ashes, about the violent death of a young Grenadian man, it was personally chosen by McQueen for Get Up Stand Up Now.
My highlights are Yinka Shonibare’s Revolution Kid, featuring a 24-carat golf gun-toting child with a calf head, dressed in a well-fitting wax fabric suit. A very powerful piece.
Sanford Biggers Woke, featuring hand-carved wooden figures coated in tar, that reflect, a black sequin silhouette o the wall behind, transforming into important figures of the 1960s Back Power movement.
Faisal Abdu’Allah gold pleated Barber Chair and Barber Clippers reflecting the importance of the barbershop where black men exchange news, stories and views - a space to come of age and where intimacy and vulnerability between men is possible.
Mickalene Thomas’ Portrait of a Warrior draws on art history and popular culture to reflect female sexuality.
And Zak Ové, the curator and multi-disciplinary artist, left me speechless with his Umbilical Progenitor, with its graphite body clothed in an astronaut suit that carries a child on his back. Informed by the African diaspora with a focus on the traditions of masking and masquerade - a true Afrofuturistic masterpiece.
Yinka Ilori is a London based designer specialising in up-cycling vintage furniture, inspired by traditional Nigerian parables and African fabrics. Ilori acted as exhibition designer for the whole exhibition and used our fabrics for the upholstery throughout Get Up Stand Up Now!
And you can find our products in the museum shop, championing Black British designers and makers, stocking a wide variety of colourful homeware, clothing and accessories plus a large selection of books, magazines and essential vinyl.
Get Up Stand Up Now runs unto 15th September at Somerset House in London. In my opinion, a must-see, as it is more than an art exhibition. It touches on the experiences and interpretations of Black artists over 50 years and is in itself a reflection on the strength, personal struggle and achievement of 3 generations, that helped to shape the UK to what it is today.