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Somerset House to explore British identity with the announcement of two new shows


Jenn Nkiru: Neneh Cherry – Kong (2018) (via Somerset House)

One of the UK’s grandest art spaces has announced two new major shows for 2019, both of which will examine the past, present, and future of British identity.

Curated by Zak Ové, son of Horace Ové, the man responsible for the first feature film by a black British director, Get Up, Stand Up! is set to explore 50 years of multi-disciplinary black creativity in the UK and beyond.

Featuring work by over 100 artists, spanning photography, literature, film, music, fashion, and design, Zak’s curatorial ambition is to only include material by practitioners who have “actively” shaped the cultural face of Britain over the post-Windrush decades. Featured exhibitors include Gaika, Hassan Hajjaj, and the Black Audio Film Collective.

The show, which runs 12 June – 15 September 2019, is billed by Somerset House as a “multi-sensory experience” in which “historic works and new commissions will sit alongside items from personal archives,” many of which have never previously been exhibited in public. The result will, they say, trace “more than half a century of collective history.”


Charlie Phillips: Outside the Piss House Pub, Portobello Road 1968 (via Somerset House)


Barbara Walker: The Big Secret (via Somerset House)

The second investigation into identity comes in the form of Kaleidoscope, a photography show which will showcase the work of ten snappers born or based in Britain, many of whom have family origins which span across the globe. Each artist has been asked to consider “what it means and how it feels to live as an immigrant, or the descendent of immigrants,” in contemporary Britain.

Chris Steele-Perkins, Kurt Tong, and Teresa Eng make up three of the photographers showing work in this exhibition, curated by Ekow Eshun and Darrell Vydelingum.

“Reflecting the multiplicity of voices that together form modern Britain, the exhibition takes individual and often intensely personal experiences to encourage a wider appreciation of the nation’s multiculturalism,” says a statement issued by Somerset House.

Kaleidoscope will run from 12 June to 8 September 2019.


Rhianne Clarke: Many Rivers to Cross (via Somerset House)


Chris Steele Perkins: The New Londoners (via Somerset House)