Exhibition: The Meaning of Style (UK)

Meaning of Style Exhibition. Black British Style, and the underlying political and social environment. An exhibition created by New Art Exchange.
Dates: Saturday 16 January - Saturday 10 April 2010 in Nottingham (UK)

New Art Exchange presents an exhibition exploring the presence of young African Caribbean men in Britain over the last 40 years, and how Black music, fashion and culture have influenced mainstream society.

Young African Caribbean men have often been portrayed as low achievers and perpetrators of crime in British society. But now, with Barack Obama winning the presidency of the biggest superpower in the world, will we see these same young men portrayed in a different light; as a source of huge potential for the future? Will the achievement of black youth in Britain over the last 40 years be recognised and honoured?

The presence of young 'Black' men in the UK started to be felt in the mainstream media in the 1970’s. Often portrayed negatively, this was a period of hope for the ‘African Caribbean’ community, a period of ‘Pan African’ and ‘Back to Africa’ ideology. This was also a period of oppression for many young Black men, due in part to the political climate of Thatcherism, Police harassment and institutionalised racism.

The African Caribbean youth of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s were the first generation in the UK to confront society and demand change on mass. This ‘rebel’ generation in the UK were reflected in the visibility of sub-cultures like the ‘Natty Dreads / Rastas’ and the rise of reggae music with politically aware artists like Bob Marley and, in the UK, Steel Pulse. Young men developed a ‘Rebel’ style that influenced young people from all backgrounds, around the world.

Style, fashion, ideology and the ‘Black’ Diaspora may have changed over the years, but young ‘Black’ men in the UK have made their presence felt ever since. In modern society many of the legacy of this 'rebel' style is seen in the fashion of young people from all backgrounds, ethnicity and geographical locations around the world. Ultimately, this exhibition will ask questions of all of us.

‘The Meaning of Style’ will bring together artists that have created portraits of young people using different mediums and create a dialogue and polemic which cross reference the work in the exhibition .

Skinder Hundal, Chief Executive - New Art Exchange said:
“New Art Exchange is extremely proud to be hosting this extremely important exhibition, which explores some of our seminal artists documenting ‘British Black culture’ from past decades, and highlighting how this has helped influence fashion, music and mainstream culture. It was a time of change, awareness and finally empowerment for many migrant communities in the UK, and the exhibition explores this through various artforms.”

The exhibition and accompanying events and educational programme will explore young African Caribbean men’s style and fashion over the last 40 years, and the underlying political, social environment.

New Art Exchange
Gerard Hanson

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