Eddie Chambers: Destruction of the NF
Eddie Chambers is perhaps the most important figure in the Eighties emergence of what we call ‘black art’. He became active, politically as well as artistically, while doing his foundation course at Coventry Lanchester Polytechnic. He met Keith Piper there, and together they formed a group called ‘The Pan-Afrikan Connection’, which not only organised many exhibitions of young black artists but also conducted seminars, workshops, etc. around the idea of black art. In 1981, during the first exhibition they put together, Black Art an Done, he issued this statement:
The work of the black artist should be seen as having specific positive functions: a tool to assist us in our struggle for our liberation, both at home and abroad, as opposed to simply reflecting the moral bankruptcy of modern times… Black Art at the very least, should indicate and/or document change. It should seek to effect such change by aiming to help create an alternative set of values necessary to better living. Otherwise it fails to be legitimate art.
‘The First National Black Art Convention’ was organised at the Wolverhampton Polytechnic in October 1982, which attracted a large number of young black artists and art students, who subsequently became part of what we know today as the Black Art Movement; and Eddie Chambers played a major role in its development not only as an organiser but also a writer on black art.
His own work, as an artist, has been concerned with the issues of racism and imperialism, dealoing with the actual violence it has been perpetrating against African people since slavery and also with their stereotyped images in the dominant culture. His first known work Destruction of the NF was done in 1979-80, and reproduced in the following four pages.
The above text, “Eddie Chambers: Destruction of the NF” written by Rasheed Araeen appeared in Third Text, Number 5, Winter 1988/89: 45