Stuart Hall Foundation and iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) are thrilled to announce that artist and maker Dharma Taylor has been selected for the sixth Stuart Hall Library Artist Residency – a funded opportunity at the Stuart Hall Library in London, UK, that builds on Professor Stuart Hall’s unique contribution to intellectual and cultural life.

Building on the distinct connections between iniva and Stuart Hall Foundation, the residency allows visual artists the space to think about some of the key themes related to the work of iniva and the Stuart Hall Foundation, including the language of the diaspora, culture, identity and archiving.

This year, reflecting on Stuart Hall’s paper ‘Constituting an archive’ (published by Third Text, Spring 2001), artists were invited to apply with research proposals that responded to the concept of “the living archive” and consider the multiple ways in which an archive as a site may hold multiple narratives that are contested. The Stuart Hall Foundation and iniva were particularly interested in working with an artist whose practice is informed by perspectives on politics, identity and activism; who is interested in the language of the international and ideas around diaspora; and whose methodology may relate to notions of archiving and the archival.

Selected artist Dharma Taylor is a multidisciplinary artist, combining textiles with woodwork to produce narrative-rich, design-driven works that seek to observe aspects of systems within which we exist and that allow her to explore her position within the Diaspora and contemporary British society. Her practice focuses on memory and the prehistory of prior conditions, interweaving flashes of hue and colour-stories to create new textiles using family history as inspiration. Through an abstract approach further inspired by diverse sources from technology and poetry to ancient civilisations and cultural plurality, she constructs everyday objects of furniture; in particular chairs and rugs and embroidered slippers, that offer support for the human form throughout life.

‘Rug, Furniture, Sculptures and Slippers’, a solo exhibition in 2021 by Dharma Taylor. Photographer: Dan Weill.

Selected through a richly competitive open call, Taylor’s project ‘Part of the Furniture’ will focus on the radical act of craft, resulting in pieces of textiles or solid oak furniture inspired by Stuart Hall’s ‘interest in the experience of being alive during such disruptive times’. During the three-month residency, Taylor will be focusing her research on racialised labour, migration of textile workers, examining the politics of cloth and exploring what it means to be a craftsperson of colour today. As part of the residency, which takes place between May – July, Taylor will also be sharing her research as part of a public event in the Autumn.

Dharma Taylor, selected artist for the 6th Stuart Hall Library Artist Residency said:

“During this residency I want to be able to research in a way that is not just about creating beautiful objects and the process of making but rather to engage and explore the issues of our time and do it in a way that redresses the balance of equality and opportunity within the design industries, shining a light on an optimistic future.”

‘Harry Chair and Table’ inspired by Taylor’s great grandfather, 2021. Photographer: Andy Price.

Roshini Kempadoo (Artist and SHF Associate), Harriet Fleuriot (Head of Programmes) and Orsod Malik (Programme Curator) at Stuart Hall Foundation said:

“Dharma’s application stood out as a stirring response to the here and now. Responding to Hall’s concept of the “living archive”, Dharma presented a well-rounded proposal that critically engages with the politics of materiality, how raw materials can be considered an archive in themselves, and how ideas of ‘origin’ and sustainability can be examined through the process of furniture-making. We were particularly captivated by Dharma’s interdisciplinary approach to research and artmaking as a way of exploring cultural entanglements. We are very much looking forward to seeing, hearing and experiencing the work as the residency progresses.”

Beatriz Lobo (Curator) and Tavian Hunter (Library and Archive Manager) at iniva said:

“Dharma’s focus on the “radical act of craft” felt fresh and innovative for the work that iniva is doing to provide support for artists looking to integrate research-led approaches into their practices. We are looking forward to how Dharma develops an interdisciplinary practice linking woodwork to textiles through research into the concept of the living archive using resources held in Stuart Hall Library and iniva’s archives. We are excited to learn from Dharma’s experience as a maker as we expand the collection around her practice whilst she develops her own ideas.”

About Dharma Taylor

Dharma Taylor is a multidisciplinary designer and maker with a background specialising in menswear and textiles. She graduated from Rochester University for the creative arts with a BA in Fashion Design and the London College of Fashion with an MA in Menswear. She has developed her practice and explored working with new material, Dharma’s way of combining textiles with woodwork produces works of great beauty and deceptive simplicity.

Over the past few years through research-based projects, she has sought to observe aspects of the society and systems in which we exist. Inspired by diverse sources, from technology and poetry to ancient civilisations and cultural plurality.

As an artist of dual heritage, she draws on her Caribbean and European lineage, creating work that allows her to explore her position within the Diaspora and contemporary British society. This perspective has long been the impetus behind her narrative-rich, design-driven, art methodology for making new work.

Since graduating she has worked on various artistic projects; they’ve been shown by a variety of national and international organisations and galleries including the Benaki Museum in Athens, the V&A and Tate Britain. She is currently a Lecturer in Fashion and Textiles at Central Saint Martins and splits her time between teaching and developing her practice. In an exciting development from her use of textiles, Dharma has approached working with wood in an organic way expressed through careful observation and respect of the natural material, paired with traditional carpentry techniques. The woodwork pieces are crafted in memory of her great grandfather tapping into the carpentry world that he had a passion for.

About iniva

iniva is an evolving, radical visual arts organisation dedicated to developing an artistic programme that reflects the social and political impact of globalisation. With the Stuart Hall Library acting as a critical and creative hub for its work, iniva collaborates with artists, curators, researchers and cultural producers to challenge conventional notions of diversity and difference. iniva engages a wide audience, particularly young people, in discourse and debate on issues surrounding the politics of race, class and gender.

Through its programme it works predominantly with British-born and British-based visual artists of African and Asian descent supporting them at different stages in their careers. iniva offers residencies, commissions new work and promotes existing practices enabling ambition and artist development. By cultivating innovative thinking, it is committed to disseminating research across a wide cultural spectrum and geographical network. Its ambition is to build a greater body of knowledge around each of the artists with whom it works to ensure the legacy of their practices for future generations of researchers and audiences.

Founded in 1994, under the leadership of renowned academic Professor Stuart Hall, iniva is a non-profit organisation based in East London. It has established itself as a pioneering arts organisation in the artistic environment in the UK and beyond. iniva has worked with internationally renowned artists and curators early in their careers including David A Bailey, Sonia Boyce, Sheela Gowda, NS Harsha, Isaac Julien, Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili, Yinka Shonibare, Kobena Mercer, Okwui Enwezor, and Guy Brett.

iniva is a registered charity and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation and is generously supported by individual donors, trusts and foundations.

The sixth Stuart Hall Library Artist Residency is supported by Arts Council England.

Stay connected

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest news, events and opportunities: