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Museum goes back to black

RADICAL: A piece from Museums Sheffield new exhibition on display in the Graves Gallery

RARELY-SEEN work from a collective of radical black artists who rose to prominence in the 1980s is back on show for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The BLK Art Group formed against the backdrop of Britain’s racial turbulence and civil unrest which influenced their work and inspired a generation of black artists like Chris Ofili and Steve McQueen.

At a time when black arts were largely ignored, The BLK Art Group, made up of Midlands-based Keith Piper, Marlene Smith, Eddie Chambers, Claudette Johnson and Donald Rodney, were a considerable force; capturing the black experience and taking inspiration from the Black Power movement.

Rodney died in 1998 from health complications linked to his sickle cell anaemia diagnosis.

Louisa Briggs, Curator of Visual Art at Museums Sheffield said: "I’ve been wanting to curate this show since I started here about four years ago.

“I think these are some of the most powerful and political works we have in Sheffield’s collection. I find it hard to imagine now just what an impact these would have made as you wandered into a traditional gallery space which may never have shown work by black artists before.

“Reading some of the visitor comments from the time has been both revealing and shocking. These works are borne out of a particular historical moment. 30 years later and they have lost none of their power."

The work is on show at Museum Sheffield’s Graves Gallery and features pieces from its own collection as well as loans from the artists themselves which have been carefully restored with Arts Council funding.

The Blk Art Group exhibition will be on show until March 2012 and a special talk about the collection will take place on Sepember 15

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