A DIY aesthetic (Red Pepper #214 June July 2017) 

I was born in 1960 and came of age in Britain at a time when notions of my identity were being heavily contested. What does it mean to come of age in a country where a significant number of its citizens, from Thatcher (who was then leader of the opposition) to street goons, express a deep sense of ambivalence about the value of your presence?

Your very existence is regarded not as a fact of being but as a justification for all sorts of vile anti-immigrant sentiment as well as a justification for violence enacted against black people.

This is the wider context that a number of us were coming of age in and I think the art we made reflected a lot of these issues. Not only the assault on our Britishness but also the ways in which we were looking for substitutes to shore up our identity. The strategy we enacted was one of solidarity.

The continuing existence of apartheid, for example, the violence of the state in terms of police - these are subjects that black artists in the 1980s are taking up.

Look at the work of someone like Tam Joseph. The Spirit of the Carnival screenprint is an extraordinary work, the original having been made in the early 1980s, talking about police numbers at Notting Hill Carnival and the police brutality that flowed from that.

White society had little or no interest in these things, so the artists became commentators for the wider demographic. They were not just artists for themselves. They made art with which they sought to communicate to wider audiences.

The above extract is taken from "A DIY aesthetic", a feature on Eddie Chambers on page 45 of Red Pepper #214 Jun July 2017, introduced as follows: 'EDDIE CHAMBERS, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as a founder of the Blk Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s'

See also http://www.redpepper.org.uk/eddie-chambers-black-artists-and-the-diy-aesthetic/