In episode 2 of Living Archives Beverley Bennett and Marlene Smith discuss their practices in relation to family, collectivity and memory.
Conversation transcript available here. Listen to more episodes here.
Living Archives is an oral histories project co-produced by the Stuart Hall Foundation and the International Curators Forum. The project is made up of six intergenerational conversations. Each conversation considers an alternative history of contemporary Britain through the testimony of UK-based diasporic artists working between the 1980s and the present-day. The project will form, what Stuart Hall calls, a “living archive of the diaspora” which maps the development, endurance, and centrality of diasporic artistic production in Britain.
Hosted by ICF’s Deputy Artistic Director, Jessica Taylor, practitioners reflected on the reasons they became artists, the development of their practices, the different moments and movements they bore witness to, and the beautiful reasons they chose to be in conversation with each other.
Hosted by Jessica Taylor
Edited by Chris Browne
Designs by Yolande Mutale
Music by LOX
Beverley Bennett is an artist-filmmaker whose work revolves around the possibilities of drawing, performance and collaboration. Her practice is connected multiple ways of making. The first of these is a concern with the importance of ‘gatherings’ to denote a methodology that differs from the more hierarchical model of the workshop; one person leading and sharing information with participants taking part in the activities. Instead ‘gatherings’ are cyclical, whereby everyone learns from each other and often formulate in myriad ways, from reading together to gathering at a party. This has created a ‘tapestry of voices’, an interweaving of communalities and differences that provide a broader view, an important part of amplifying intergenerational relationships. The second is an investigation of the idea of The Archive (often beginning projects by creating / adding to her own extensive personal archives of interviews, using them for preliminary research and experimentation) and the third is collaboration. This is frequently through socially political work with other creatives, fine artists, community members, young children and their families. Her practice provides spaces for participants to become collaborators and provides a point of focus from where to unpick ideas around what constitutes an art practice and for whom art is generated.
Marlene Smith is a British artist and curator. She was a member of the Blk Art Group in the 1980s and is one of the founding members of the BLK Art Group Research Project. She was director of The Public in West Bromwich and UK Research Manager for Black Artists and Modernism, a collaborative research project run by the University of the Arts London and Middlesex University. She is Director of The Room Next to Mine, and was an Associate of Lubaina Himid’s Making Histories Visible Project and Associate Artist at Modern Art Oxford.
Selected exhibitions include: The More Things Change, Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2023); Cut & Mix, New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2022); Portals, East Side Projects, Birmingham (2021); Get Up, Stand Up, Now!Generations of Black Creative Pioneers, Somerset House, London (2019); The Place is Here,Nottingham Contemporary and South London Gallery (2017); Thinking Back: a montage of black art in Britain, Van Abbe Museu, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2016); Her work is in the Government Art collection and the collections of Sheffield museums and Wolverhampton art gallery.
Produced with funding from the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) and Arts Council England.