Seven Saints of St Pauls: Murals honour Black Bristolians

Key people who shaped Bristol’s black community are to be immortalised in seven murals on prominent walls around the St Pauls area of the city.

It is the idea of local artist Michele Curtis who plans to first stage an exhibition featuring the people she calls the Seven Saints of St Pauls.

Portraits include the St Pauls Carnival founders and those who led the 1963 Bristol bus boycott.

Ms Curtis said the idea was to celebrate their legacy.

“Black history in Bristol stretches far beyond its roots in the slave trade, although we are constantly reminded of the merchants and slave owners of Bristol through the prominent naming of streets, (Guinea Street) buildings (Colston Tower) and statues (Edward Colston),” she said.

The approaching 50th anniversary of the St Pauls Carnival in 2018 inspired Ms Curtis to come up with the idea.

“St Pauls has such a bad reputation - I want to change the perception that nobody and nothing good has come out of here,” said Ms Curtis.

Positive initial discussions have been held with Bristol City Council and housing associations to paint the murals on houses or prominent buildings along the route of the carnival procession.

“Having these murals up in the air is a conversation with your child on the way to school - it’s knowledge, history, fun,” said Ms Curtis.

“People will ask who they are and why their portrait is on the wall.”

Seven Saints of St Pauls

Owen Henry - A founder of the Commonwealth Co-ordinated Committee (CCC) set up to highlight open racial discrimination in Bristol in the 1960s and supporter of the Bristol bus boycott of 1963

Carmen Beckford - Community development worker and one of the initial organisers of the carnival

Roy Hackett - Co-founder and chair of the CCC which set up and ran the St Pauls Festival

Barbara Dettering - Key member of Bristol West Indian Parents’ and Friends’ Association and civil rights campaigner

Clifford Drummond - Secretary and treasurer of the CCC

Delores Campbell - First female member of the CCC and co-founder of the St Pauls Festival

Audley Evans - Founder member of CCC


Open Letter To My Fellow Young Artists and Scholars Who Work On The Margins

You know who you are.

Your parents may be immigrants. You yourself may be from a place far from where you currently live. You may have been the only (insert minority) in your art and theory classes. Your sexuality and gender (or lack thereof) may become a topic of conversation before your work does. You may have grown up without access to museums and good art supplies, but you still drew, sculpted, took pictures, or performed for your family and friends. Your beliefs or body type may make you a target for violence or ridicule. You may make work about your identity or you may not. Like all artists and scholars, you want to share your work and ideas.

You are reminded daily or occasionally but you are reminded nonetheless: you are “other.”

To you, I declare that community is not passé. It is the foundation upon which we stand, no matter how post-modern, irreverent, or solitary our practices. Also, I propose that heritage and the history of those who came before you is not a burden, but a source of strength. Tribute, homage, and respect are not just generational mandates - it is how your foundation is continually fortified. Community is how artists survive perpetual historical amnesia at the hands of the gatekeepers of the canon from which we seek acceptance.

I’m not going to lie to you. There are rewards for this amnesia - people will call you avant-garde or controversial, you don’t seem hindered by oppression, you aren’t didactic, you will gain access into places - alone - because you are one of the chosen ones who don’t challenge the institution. But you will be in the ivory tower, alone.

We can explore such ideas as the post-black, the post-racial, and the post-feminist because our ancestors’ world was a world of firsts before the post. I appeal to you to acknowledge your influences, publicly and loudly. I implore you to do your research and cite your sources. I ask you to share. Do not be lulled by the open gate or window, and then close it behind you so no one else like you can enter. A sense of competition is bred into the art world that makes you feel like you will lose if you aren’t the chosen one. Especially to the radiant child and the wunderkind, I ask you to open your hands and release your anxiety.

Perhaps most importantly, reach back and open doors to your elders. They need us, too. I applaud William Cordova’s work on the Black Panthers, Rashid Johnson for curating Sam Gilliam, Mickalene Thomas’ inter-generational show of black photographers at Rhona Hoffman, Clifford Owens’ historic work Anthology, LaMont Hamilton’s 75 Portraits project, and Eliza Myrie, Dawoud Bey, Candida Alvarez, and Theaster Gates for organizing the Black Artists Retreat.

Since Terry Adkins’ passing yesterday, I have been shocked at how many people did not know this brilliant man and his work. However, I have taken comfort that I belong to a community of people in the art world who take care of each other. “Are you alright?” “How is so-and-so taking the news?” “Do you want to talk?” “How will we make sure Terry is not forgotten?” I met the man briefly and have only been in this community for a few years, yet I feel totally enveloped by support. LaMont Hamilton and I were marveling about his impact and how we feel as emerging artists to have had the chance to share words and ideas with him. How good it feels to know I am not the only one who wants to celebrate his legacy.

This is not only about respecting your elders. It is also about self-care. The threat of addiction, isolation, and fear of losing your spot can have fatal consequences. We’ve seen this with our beloved Jean-Michel Basquiat. Take care of yourself and others on the margins with you. None of us are free until all of us are free.

May you all find comfort and power from your community in art and in history.

Brother Terry, may your legacy live forever.

In solidarity,

Rashayla Marie Brown
February 9, 2014
Chicago, IL

performer Nina Ber was not topless for Marko Markovic’s Fuck the System. She wasn’t, however, wearing any underwear beneath her long, sliplike red shirt when she lifted it above her waist and her vagina became the grudging receptacle for Markovic’s tongue for nearly 20 minutes. Uncomfortably standing with her fist raised high in the air,
 as if hitting a vague protest gesture, she didn’t seem to be enjoying any of the dude’s earnest attentions as he buried his face deep in her pussy. Maybe she was too busy pondering “protest movements and powers of resistance against oppressive apparatus[es],” as Markovic’s program blurb stated. Or maybe she was just bored like the rest of us, who found little interesting about standard-fare cunnilingus.

so last night I participated in this performance art photography audience based shoot at the atlanta contemporary art center and we were told it was going to be kind of intense

The guy was named Cliff and I couldn’t ever really tell if I liked him. He would ask a question and if you were that, you stood in front of the camera. questions like:

  • you like dick?
  • you like pussy?
  • have you ever fucked a black man?
  • do you want to fuck a black man?
  • do you do drugs?

then he would like stare at the audience, and pick out people. group them in categories like “I would fuck”

then he asked who would get naked for a photograph. so people did. and then he did. then he asked someone who thought he was a misogynistic asshole for picking the girls he wanted to fuck, to whip him with his belt. so a lady did. whipped his naked ass four times. it was intense. then we started talking about drug use and suicide and people started crying. it was fucking nuts.

then I got high and ran around the city in the rain. life

Derrick Adams in Conversation with Adrienne Edwards

“Performance is a tool that uses me”

Interview by Adrienne Edwards

Derrick Adams is a New York City-based multi-disciplinary artist whose work is rooted in Deconstructivist philosophies, and the formation and perception of ideals attached to objects, colors, textures, symbols and ideologies. Adams focuses on fragmentation, manipulation, and refraction of structures and surfaces. Particularly concerned with the shape-shifting forces of popular culture, Adams explores identity through the relationship between man and monument as they co-exist as representations of one another. Following his March 11th, 2011, performance of The Entertainer as part of Clifford Owens: Anthology project and exhibition at MoMA PS1, Adams and Performa’s Adrienne Edwards discussed processes, evolutions and influences. 

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“I mean, do you copyright a performance? It seems a bit silly. Copyrighting has never really been about art. Copyrighting is about commerce, commodities. One reason I’ve always been interested in performance art is that it isn’t easily commodifiable. Some people are making a living at it. I’ve been fortunate enough to sell some work, but this practice was never intended as a moneymaker. In fact, it’s costing a fortune. (laughter)”