Department of Art and Art History Calendar

Art History Lecture Series presents Richard Hylton

Richard Hylton,
London-based independent curator and writer of art criticism

Keeping Up Appearances: Black artists, state patronage and the politics of visibility in Britain

Keeping Up Appearances

Britain’s ‘love affair’ with multiculturalism had its ups and downs over the years. However, more often than not, when deemed useful, as in the case of the London 2012 Olympics, it rarely fails to be claimed as one of the nation’s defining qualities, setting Britain apart from what is perceived to be a less ‘tolerant’ mindset found in mainland Europe. Britain’s visual arts sector has arguably, in its promotion and celebration of multiculturalism, for many reasons, come to represent a microcosm of establishment attitudes towards notions of ‘plurality’ and ‘difference’. However, what do these attitudes actually amount to?

Charting the recent emergence of ‘affirmative action’ initiatives and policies, Keeping Up Appearances will consider the extent to which Britain’s particular brand of multiculturalism has over the years impacted on and shaped the profile of Black British artists. This lecture will also consider various recent developments in championing ‘culturally diverse arts’ involving institutions such as the Tate, the Institute of International Visual Arts, London (Iniva) and the New Art Exchange, Nottingham in championing ‘culturally diverse arts’.

About Richard Hylton

Hylton is a freelance curator and writer of art criticism. Over the past twenty years he has curated numerous national and international exhibitions for various arts organisations. He has edited a number of artists’ monographs including those on Donald Rodney and Janette Parris and co-produced with Virginia Nimarkoh,  'The Holy Bible: Old Testament' by American artist David Hammons. His book, 'The Nature of the Beast: Cultural Diversity and the Visual Arts Sector, A Study of Policies, Initiatives and Attitudes 1976-2006', was published by University of Bath in 2007.


This lecture is presented in association with the Center for Art of Africa and its Diasporas (CAAD) in the Department of Art and Art History.