© 2017

Contemporary British Artists of African Descent and the Unburdening of a Generation


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Monique Kerman
    Pages 1-21
  3. Monique Kerman
    Pages 23-56
  4. Monique Kerman
    Pages 57-106
  5. Monique Kerman
    Pages 107-139
  6. Monique Kerman
    Pages 141-171
  7. Monique Kerman
    Pages 173-207
  8. Monique Kerman
    Pages 209-247
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 249-256

About this book


This book explores the notable roles that contemporary British artists of African descent have played in the multicultural context of postwar Britain. In four key case studies— Magdalene Odundo, Veronica Ryan, Mary Evans, and Maria Amidu—Monique Kerman charts their impact through analysis of works, activities, and exhibitions. The author elucidates each of the artists’ creative response to their unique experience and examines how their work engages with issues of history, identity, diaspora, and the distillation of diverse cultural sources. The study also includes a comparative discussion of art broadly defined as “black British,” in order to question assumptions concerning racial and ethnic identities that the artists often negotiate through their works—particularly the expectation or “burden” of representing minority or marginalized communities. Readers are thus challenged to unburden the artists herein and celebrate their work on its own terms.


contemporary British artists black British art multicultural postwar Britain multiculturalism multicultural art Magdalene Odundo Veronica Ryan Mary Evans Maria Amidu issues of identity in art African diaspora post-war Britain Black British artists

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Art and Art HistoryWestern Washington UniversityBellinghamUSA

About the authors

Monique Kerman is Assistant Professor of African Art History and Visual Culture at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, USA. Her articles have appeared in Africa and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, n.paradoxa, and Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture.

Bibliographic information


“Lucidly argued, painstaking research on key art and artists of African backgrounds in contemporary Britain, Kerman’s book will revive interest in the genre of biography and the vector of gender in art historical writing focused on the field of diaspora studies. She demonstrates the untapped potential for debate on artists who have sat not simply in ‘the margins’ but beyond them.” (Leon Wainwright, Reader in Art History at The Open University, UK)

“Kerman’s book has the most original framing: presenting case studies of four female contemporary British artists of African descent: Magdalene Odundo, Veronica Ryan, Mary Evans, and Maria Amidu. Given that none of these artists have taken up any sort of pronounced proximity to notions of “Black Art”, or consistently exhibited in the particular company of other black artists, Kerman’s book represents a potentially important opportunity to set to one side the oftentimes clumsy or reductive frameworks too often applied to the work and the histories of black British artists.” (Eddie Chambers, Professor, Department and Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin, USA)