Liverpool has one of the oldest Black communities in the UK, with a wealth of creative talent, yet this often gets overlooked argues artist and activist Sumuyya Khader. Indeed, although the city is known for actively celebrating culture, “as a Black woman, I rarely see people who look like me being acknowledged and their work shared” she states.
As part of its 2020 Black History Month programme, Bluecoat presents an outdoor exhibition of work by Khader and four other Liverpool-based Black artists: Amber Akaunu, Kiara Mohamed, Salma Noor, and Millie Toyin Olateju. The project is organised by Khader, who is well known for her striking prints and illustrations, which have appeared on gal-dem and the front cover of Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri’s powerful and politically charged new poetry collection, A Fire in My Head (2021).
Displayed along the gallery’s façade on Blundell Lane using billboard-style pasting, the exhibition also forms part of Liverpool Without Walls, a city-wide project bringing culture – in the form of everything from pop-up performance to light installations – back to the streets following Covid.
In a year that has seen the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the Black community, and world-wide protests in response to ongoing police brutality, systemic injustice, and all other forms of racism enacted against Black people, this exhibition serves as a powerful refusal to be ignored.