The UK/Australia Season is a major new cultural exchange celebrating the diverse and innovative artist communities and cultural sectors of each nation. A collaboration between the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Season is a vibrant programme spanning theatre, film, visual arts, dance, design, architecture, music, literature, higher education and a public engagement programme.
Designed to strengthen and build cultural connections, the Season theme is “Who Are We Now?” and will reflect on our history, explore our current relationship, and imagine our future together. The Season launched in both countries in September 2021.
This event brings together four artists, Vanley Burke, De’Anne Crooks, Linda Stupart and Osman Yousefzada with differing artistic practices and approaches to artmaking with community and for community. Moderated by John Eng Kiet Bloomfield, Senior Programme Curator, Wysing Arts Centre, the talk also reflects on the ways artists consider public within their practice both pre-pandemic and in a post-pandemic era.
The artists all share a mutual interest in spatial justice; the sharing of stories and histories of displacement. This panel is an opportunity to critically assess as well as imagine a collective and authentic future of art and artists.
Presented as part of the UK/Australia Season, a preliminary panel discussion with artists Keg de Souza, Abdullah M.I. Syed and Salote Tawale, moderated by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) took place on Friday 25 February 2022. The artist panels, based in Sydney and Birmingham, each respond to a provocation from Skinder Hundal MBE, Director of Arts, British Council on the role of artists today. Recordings of the discussions will be made available on the MCA and Ikon websites in summer 2022.
- Often described as the ‘Godfather of Black British Photography’, Vanley Burke’s iconic images have captured the evolving cultural landscape and social change, stimulating debate in the UK over the past four decades. His body of work represents possibly the largest photographic record of the Caribbean Diaspora in Britain, and as an avid collector, Burke continues to connect histories through his archive housed at the Library of Birmingham.
- De’Anne Crooks is a multidisciplinary artist and educator with a practice centred on themes of intimacy, Blackness and politicised identities. Written within their moving image and performance works are the monologues often heard in the Black Pentecostal church. Crooks used the space of their residency at The New Art Gallery Walsall (2021-2022), to implement radical listening for an exchange of memories and folklore. In their educational work, they confront western models of teaching and learning, offering their art as a tool for conversation within hostile spaces.
- Osman Yousefzada has a multidisciplinary practice that revolves around modes of storytelling, merging autobiography with fiction and ritual. His work is concerned with the representation and rupture of migrational experience and makes reference to socio-political issues of today. These themes are explored through moving image, installations and text works, sculpture, garment making and performance
- Linda Stupart is an artist, writer and educator from Cape Town, South Africa, currently working in Birmingham, UK. They are interested in the possibilities for writing and making discrete grounded encounters with different kinds of bodies (of knowledge, objects, affect as well as corporeal bodies) to think through less alienated ways of living and thinking together. This emerges from the encounters of feminist art, postcolonial, ecological, queer and affect theory as well as embodied and object-based critical institutional encounters.
- John Eng Kiet Bloomfield is Senior Programmes Curator at Wysing Arts Centre. He joined Wysing in July 2016 and works on the organisation’s programme, including residencies, exhibitions, events, partnership projects, an annual music festival and digital projects. At Wysing, he has curated the exhibitions and then, a harrowing, All His Ghosts Must Do My Bidding, more of an avalanche, Warm Worlds and Otherwise and All Channels Open. Bloomfield also manages the Syllabus programme, a collaboratively produced alternative learning programme that supports ten artists each year. Bloomfield has an MA in Film Studies from UCL, London. He lives in Birmingham.