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Ingrid Pollard Oceans Apart 1989 Tate Purchased 2013 © Ingrid Pollard, All Rights Reserved, DACS 2021

Ignored by British memory, slavery haunts Caribbean-British art.

For photographer Ingrid Pollard, the Atlantic Ocean is a physical and meaningful space. Within Oceans Apart, the sea symbolises journeys: the Middle Passage navigated by slave ships and later, by Caribbean migrants of the Windrush era. For Pollard, bodies of water are also emblems of the imagination.

‘Collective memory’ is the shared knowledge and recollections of a particular group. Pollard taps into the Caribbean collective memory of the ocean which ebbs and flows through Caribbean art like waves. Suggesting freedom, birth, death and history, the ocean’s meanings can be as fluid as water itself.


Isaac Julien Territories 1984 Collection & © Isaac Julien

To reflect their little acknowledged, diverse experiences, Caribbean-British artists must invent new modes of expression. This includes filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien who uses a range of techniques to portray diaspora identity.

Set at Notting Hill Carnival, Julien’s film Territories uses experimental forms to present 1980’s Black London. ​​Nyabinghi drum beats mingle with house rhythms. Images of Black youth overlay close-ups of the white police. The artist transforms the cinema screen into a looking-glass: a space where Black identity can be seen and race can be explored.

In this film we visit the award-winning filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien in his studio to explore three key works across his career.

Dance, theatre, music, sculpture, painting; all of these different modes are encapsulated into my practice which is why I chose film as a medium for making my work. […] I’m a poet…My work is poetic quest for a language to express the everyday experiences of people like myself. – Isaac Julien

Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s – Now is on at Tate Britain until 3 April 2022.

Award-shortlisted writer and speaker, Jessica Wilson is the author of Sofia the Dreamer and Her Magical Afro.


Horace Ové Yesterday’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Reality: Barbara Beese Leading Demonstration, London 1970, printed 2021Collection and © Courtesy Horace Ové Archives

From streetstyle to the Black Power movement, photographer and filmmaker Horace Ové recorded the public and private lives of his community from the inside. By focussing on realism, his photographs offered an alternative narrative to mainstream media.

Ové’s film-making frequently blends drama and documentary. His film A Hole in Babylon tells the true story of a group of men who robbed an Italian restaurant to fund a Black history school. Although the newspapers deemed the criminals to be hooligans, Ové delved into their heritages and unpicked their motivations.

Yesterday’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Reality snapshots a political rally from the front line in 1970. A distinct divide is seen between the white, uniformed police officers and the myriad Black activists. Ové was crucial in chronicling defining moments and figures at the forefront of change.

I’ve always been an active photographer. I live in a visual world. If there’s anything going on socially or politically, I want to know about it. So the late 1960’s and early 70’s were a very busy time for me. – Horace Ové


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