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Double Vision: An exhibition of contemporary Afro-Caribbean Art

Group show at Cartwright Hall. 1986 - 1987
Date: 8 November, 1986 until 4 January, 1987
Curator: Nima Smith
Organiser: Cartwright Hall, Bradford

Double Vision: An exhibiton of contemporary Afro-Caribbean art, was held at Cartwright Hall, Bradford, 8 November 1986 - 4 January 1987. The exhibition featured work by Tam Joseph, Franklyn Beckford, Amanda Hawthorne, Keith Piper, Debbie Hursefield, Johney Ohene, Gregory Whyte, Margaret Cooper, Uzo Egonu, Lee Hudson Simba, and Madge Spencer (this list reflects the non-alphabetical way in which the artists’ profiles appeared in the poster/brocvhure). Double Vision was perhaps typical of the sorts of ways in which Black British artists were being exhibited in the mid to late 1980s: oftentimes disparate groupings of artists, selected primarily for reasons of ethnicity rather than art form. With the dynamic paintings of Tam Joseph contrasting with the pottery of Madge Spencer, and the culturally charged painting of Uzo Egonu contrasting with the pronounced social narratives of Keith Piper, Double Vision represented the archetypal ethnic arts type of 1980s exhibition.

The exhibition took place within a few months of From Two Worlds at the Whitechapel. Indeed, a showing of From Two Worlds took place at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, with dates - 9 November 1986 - January 3 1987 -  that mirrored exactly the dates of Double Vision. Double Vision (which included several artists whose work was in From Two Worlds) was “conceived” by Nima Smith, then Assistant Keeper of Ethnic Collections at Cartwright Hall, Bradford. 

Double Vision came with a compelling, multipurpose horizontal poster cum brochure. One side featured a reproduction of Tam Joseph’s then-recently completed painting, Native Girl with Fetish. The other side featured a short preface by Robert Hopper, City Arts and Museums Officer, and an introduction to the exhibition, by John Lyons.  

One important legacy of the exhibition was the acquiring, by the Cartwright Hall Collection, of Tam Joseph’s Native Girl with Fetish.

Robert Hopper’s preface included the following: “Double Vision has a twofold purpose - it is an acknowledgement of the fact that 1986 is the year of Caribbean Focus; but perhaps more importantly it is also an acknowledgement of the fact that there is now a substantial body of works produced by Black artists, of considerable beauty and power, Bradford Art Galleries and Museums intend this to be just an initial exploration of a rich field of talent.

     Running concurrently with this exhibition is Caribbean Expressions in Britain, a selection of woks from the exhibition organised by Leicestershire Museums Services. Since the selection emphasises older, established artists, it complements Double Vision which includes a number of young artists.”

John Lyons (one of Double Vision‘s selectors) penned a relatively substantial essay that was a wide-ranging celebration of the exhibition. His text began, 

“Enshrined in the title, Double Vision, is the concept of two cultures, Afro-Caribbean and English European, inter-relating in such a way as to produce a vibrant and often aggressive art culturally identified as Black Art. There is an easily held understanding among critics with an entrenched Eurocultural vision that Afro-Caribbean artists are loosely bound by the shared experience of being in the double minority of being black and being black artists. Looking out from the Eurocentric cultural tradition they discern no Black aesthetic which finds a common mode of expression justifying the description, ‘school of painting’, etc.” 

Later on in his text, Lyons opined “This exhibition distinguished itself as having escaped the epidemic of tokenism. It has made contact with Black artists vital to the futire development of effective multi-cultural links. It provides an opportunity for Black artists to present to the public an art to be reckoned with in its power to influence


Related items

click to show details of Double Vision: exhibition poster/brochure

»  Double Vision: exhibition poster/brochure

Announcement relating to an exhibition, 1986

People in this exhibition - view 5

»  Franklyn Beckford

Born, 1963 in London, England

»  Margaret Cooper

Born, 1951 in Jamaica

»  Uzo Egonu

Born, 1931 in Onitsha, Nigeria. Died, 1996

»  Amanda Hawthorne

Born, 1964 in England

»  Lee Hudson Simba

Born, 1956 in Hanover, Jamaica

»  Debbie Hursefield

Born, 1964 in Leeds

»  Tam Joseph

Born, 1947 in Dominica

»  Johney Ohene

Born in Cape Coast, Ghana, date unknown

»  Keith Piper

Born, 1960 in Malta

»  Madge Spencer

Born, 1941 in Jamaica

»  Gregory Whyte

Born in England, date unknown

Exhibition venues

»  Cartwright Hall

Bradford, United Kingdom