Marlene Smith is a British artist and curator, and one of the founding members of the BLK Art Group. 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, an Associate of the Making Histories Visible Project and Associate Artist at Modern Art Oxford.
An in-conversation with Claudette Johnson, Keith Piper and Marlene Smith, artists and founding members of the influential BLK Art Group
Formed in Wolverhampton in the late 1970s, the group known first as the Wolverhampton Young Black Artists and later the BLK Art Group brought together young artists including Keith Piper, Marlene Smith, Eddie Chambers, Donald Rodney, Claudette Johnson, Wenda Leslie, Dominic Dawes, and Ian Palmer. With roots deep in the Midlands, the group had significant political and artistic importance; their work spoke to and about race, class and gender relations in the UK and challenged narrow parameters of art-making and aesthetics. They forged the way for the founding of institutions such as The Black-Art Gallery, INIVA and the Association of Black Photographers. In this panel discussion the artists will talk about their work and the legacies of the BLK Art Group, and reflect upon the intersections of art practices, politics and histories then and now, and what the future might hold for British art and art history.