Keith Piper Body Politics

Wolverhampton is a diverse city where around 60 languages are spoken and is home to 10,000 descendants of the Windrush generation. The city has an exemplary record of community development and anti-racist activity, for example establishing the first Race Equality Council in the country and in setting up the African and Caribbean Cultural Centre. In 1998, the council, in partnership with over 20 voluntary organisations, put on a successful event attended by over 3,000 people to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, which lead to the founding of BE-ME (the Black and Ethnic Minority Experience Foundation) the following year.

The month of October celebrates Black History Month and as a city we come together to celebrate the contributions of African and Caribbean descendants that have helped shape Wolverhampton that has made a huge difference to the city, it’s culture and its people.

There are a number of activities taking place across the city and we will update this page on a regular basis.

If you want to find out more information about Black History Month, online activities, articles or educational resources please visit

What’s happening in Wolverhampton
Black Art Collection

Black Art Collection

Wolverhampton Art Gallery is committed to building its collection of work by black British artists and our ambition is to become a recognised centre for Black Art collecting. HLF through the Collecting Cultures programme has enabled us to acquire works by black artists, particularly those who were active in the 1980s. Beyond this, we intend to bid for further funding to increase the depth and breadth of our black art collection.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery played a significant role in the emergence of the Black Arts Movement, having hosted the first major exhibition by young black artists including Eddie Chambers and Keith Piper, in 1981. This was followed by the first

National Black Art Convention at Wolverhampton Polytechnic (now the University of Wolverhampton) in 1982. These two events spawned a new wave of black art which reflected the social and political issues experienced by a generation of black British individuals whose parents had arrived here during the Windrush era.

Our current collection contains a number of works by black British artists, including Gavin Jantjes, Eugene Palmer, Sylbert Bolton and Chris Ofili. We intend to use the HLF funding to enhance this collection significantly by acquiring key pieces by artists associated with the BLK Art Group such as Keith Piper, Eddie Chambers, Marlene Smith, Claudette Johnson, Donald Rodney, Lubaina Himid and Sonia Boyce, as well as by artists such as Tam Joseph who influenced this generation and those who have in turn been influenced by the artists associated with the Black Art Movement. To find out more about the city’s Black Art Collection visit the website.

  • Image credit. Untitled (‘Cowboy & Indian’ after David Hockney’s ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging’, 1961) © the artist.

Here to Stay

Here to Stay, on until 10 January, Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Here To Stay is an archive of portraits and oral histories by documentary photographer Inès Elsa Dalal which documents the personal and professional narratives of 23 Black healthcare personnel working in the National Health Service. It was commissioned in 2018 to celebrate 70 years since the arrival of the Windrush Generation, many of whom have been, and still are, integral to the success of the NHS.

  • Image credit - Kyra Simms by Inès Elsa Dalal
Windrush Generation

Windrush Generation Exhibition, 3 October – 20 December, Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Will digitise 108 interviews carried out at the turn of the century. The original interviews, which are preserved at Wolverhampton City Archives, detail the struggles and achievements of Caribbean and other settlers and celebrate how they contributed to the development of Wolverhampton.

The interviews also cover topics including home country, arrival, housing conditions, employment, education, religion and combating racism.

  • Image credit – Windrush Interviewee

Stellar: Stars of our Contemporary Collection, 24 October – 20 December 2020, Wolverhampton Art Gallery
A visual feast of paintings, sculpture, film and photography by some of the best British artists who have been nominated for the Turner Prize or selected for the British Art Show since it was established in 1979 – all from Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s collection. The exhibition has been curated through the lens of our collecting priorities over recent decades and explores themes and genres including Pop Art, abstraction, gender politics, conflict and cultural identity.

This display is a prelude to British Art Show 9 (BAS9), launching in Wolverhampton in March 2021. The British Art Show takes place every five years and is the largest and most ambitious survey of recent developments in British art.

  • Image credit. Allen Jones. Dream T-Shirt, 1964 © the artist

Wolverhampton Art Gallery is open Monday – Saturday 10.30am until 4.30pm and Sunday 11am until 4pm. Free admission.

Online activity

Frank Challenger
Windrush Generations Online talk in partnership with Wolverhampton University, 22 October.

Visit Eventbrite to register

Curators Talk

Curatorial Talk

Join Senior Curator, Carol Thompson, as she depicts work by Tam Joseph, Spirit of the Carnival.

Talking point - Art can be a powerful tool to bring people together through conversations. With this in mind, we’re inviting visitors to consider a painting from our collection which raises questions about identity, heritage, race, and freedom of expression; issues of current importance, which concern us all. We hope that looking at this artwork will spark discussion, comments and observations. Image Credit: Tam Joseph. Spirit of the Carnival, 1928. © the artist.

  • Image credit – Tam Joseph. Spirit of the Carnival, 1982. © the artist

Keith Piper Body Politics

Keith Piper: Body Politics. Works form 1982 – 2007.
Keith Piper (b. 1960) returned to Wolverhampton Art Gallery with a major exhibition that brought together key works from across the first three decades of his career focusing on the 1980s and 90s and ending with a video from 2007.

Covering a wide range of subjects from the objectification of the ‘black body’, through politics of the moment, to slavery, this exhibition confronted issues of race and class, that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire.

Piper, a core player in the Black Art Movement and British contemporary art, first exhibited at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 1981 in the ground-breaking exhibition Black Art an’ Done. This solo show Keith Piper: Body Politics. Work from 1982 – 2007 demonstrated the shift in his practice from painting, print and collage towards new media.

Hear what Keith had to say about the exhibition and returning to Wolverhampton Art Gallery in this interview:

  • Image credit - Keith Piper, The Black Assassin Saints, 1982. Museums Sheffield. © the artist

Inès Elsa Dalal to discuss her body of work Here To Stay
We sat down with documentary photographer Inès Elsa Dalal to discuss her body of work Here To Stay, which is currently on show at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Here To Stay is an archive of portraits and oral histories which documents the personal and professional narratives of 23 Black healthcare personnel working in the National Health Service. It was commissioned in 2018 to celebrate 70 years since the arrival of the Windrush Generation, many of whom have been, and still are, integral to the success of the NHS. Dalal takes us through the origins of this portraiture series and discusses why it is so important to share the stories of the portrait sitters today. The exhibition is on at Wolverhampton Art Gallery until Sunday 10 Jan 2021.

Story Time Online
27 October (Half Term)

Join Elizabeth for story time during half term where she will be sharing ‘Anansi Tales’. Anansi is an Akan folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is sometimes considered to be a god of all knowledge of stories. Taking the role of trickster, he is also one of the most important characters of West African, African American and Caribbean folklore. The story telling will take place one and will be available on Tuesday 27 October via Wolverhampton Libraries new You Tube Channel.

Travel Through Time

Travel Through Time
14 October 2020
6pm until 8pm
Join guest speakers Patrick Vernon OBE and Brenda Francis, geologist, who will be explore family tree’s and how to discover more about your own. In partnership with City of wolverhampton Unison Branch.
Join the conversation.

travel through time unison logo

Entrepreneurs Month – Bias Event brought to you by Coutts.
22 October 2020
4:30 PM
This discussion will attempt to break down the challenges and what can be done to better identify and support future talent. The moderator is Vikas Shah MBE, Managing Director & CEO, Swiscot Group and our speakers include Ric Lewis, Executive Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Tristan Capital Partners and Karen Blackett former CEO and current Chairwoman of MediaCom.

Register for Webinar

Suggested Reading

Wolverhampton Library Service
Head over to the Wolverhampton Library Service where the team will be selecting stories and authors to celebrate Black History Month. The book covers will be posted everyday throughout October on their social media channels so be sure to ‘Select and Collect’ or check them out on Borrow Box.

Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

National Poetry Day – October 1
To celebrate National Poetry Day Wolverhampton are celebrating Black artists as part of Black History Month.

Join the Wolverhampton Literature Festival Team and Wolverhampton Library Services who will be taking a look back at performing artists and showcasing the talent across the city.

Why not get involved and share your work with us by posting it in a comment or tagging us in. Use #NationalPoetryDay.

A selection of books to help children, young people, families and teachers explore race, identity, culture and achievements.

  • So Much - Author: Trish Cooke - Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury - Age 3-5
  • Look Up - Author: Nathan Bryon - Illustrator: Dapo Adeola - Age 5-7
  • Baby Ruby Bawled - Author: Malaika Rose Stanley - Illustrator: Ken Wilson-Max - Age 2-5
  • Fruits - Author: Valerie Bloom - Illustrator: David Axtell - Age 2-5
  • The Proudest Blue - Author: Ibtihaj Muhammad- Illustrator: Hatem Aly - Age 5-7
  • Luna Loves Library Day - Author: Joseph Coelho - Illustrator: Fiona Lumbers - Age 5-7
  • Baba’s Gift - Author: Beverley Naidoo - Illustrator: Karin Littlewood - Age 5-7
  • Dominic Grows Sweetcorn - Author: Mandy Ross - Illustrator: Alison Bartlett - Age 5-7
  • My Two Grandads - Author: Floella Benjamin - Illustrator: M. Chamberlain - Age 5-7
  • Grace and Family - Author: Mary Hoffman - Illustrator: Caroline Binch - Age 5-7
  • Sulwe - Author: Lupita N’yongo - Illustrator: Vashti Harrison - Age 5-7
  • Peacemaker - Author: Malorie Blackman - Age 8-11
  • Ghost - Author: Jason Reynolds - Age 11 +
  • Young, Gifted and Black - Author: Jamia Wilson - Illustrator: Andrea Pippins - Age 7-11
  • High Rise Mystery - Author: Sharna Jackson - Age 11 +
  • Funky Chickens - Author: Benjamin Zephaniah - Age 7-11
  • Ghost Boys - Author: Jewell Parker - Age 9+
  • Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History - Author: Vashti Harrison - Age 7-11
  • Long Walk to Freedom - Illustrator: Paddy Bouma - Age 7 +
  • Coming to England - Author: Floella Benjamin - Age 11+
  • Noughts and Crosses - Author: Malorie Blackman - Age 11+
  • The Hate U Give - Author: Angie Thomas - Age 13+
  • On the Come Up - Author: Angie Thomas - Age 13+
  • Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space - Author Derek Owusu. Age 13+
  • I Will Not Be Erased: Our stories about growing up as people of colour - Author gal-dem. Age 13+
  • BBC – Witness Black History - Interviews with people who were there at key moments in black and civil rights history.
  • BBC 3 – Black British History - Bernardine Evaristo, Keith Piper, Miranda Kaufmann and Kehinde Andrews discuss what it means to be Black British and how black history can be taught and reflected in literature.
  • Black History Buff Podcast - Each episode of the 'Black History Buff' Podcast will take you on a thrilling journey through a chapter of Black History. Covering the full historical tapestry of the African Diaspora, you'll hear tales covering everything from African Samurai's to pistol-wielding poets. So take a seat, kick back relax and enjoy the show.
  • The Bustle - 42 Podcasts About The Black British Experience & Race In The UK
  • Spotify and Google Podcasts - A weekly 10 min history podcast to aid your Black history learning.

Wolverhampton Music School have come together to celebrate Black History Month by selecting their favourite artist or music score and performing the piece.