New works and Events for Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers Announced

12 June – 15 September 2019




Featuring: Althea McNish, Armet Francis, Black Audio Film Collective, Bradford Young, Carrie Mae Weems, Chris Ofili, David Hammons, Dennis Bovell, Derrick Adams, Ebony G Patterson, Gaika, Glenn Ligon, Hank Willis Thomas, Helen Cammock, Horace Ové, Jenn Nkiru, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lubaina Himid, Martine Rose, Mowalola Ogunlesi, Nari Ward, Peter Doig, Rashid Johnson, Ronan McKenzie, Sanford Biggers, Sonia Boyce, Steve McQueen, Yinka Shonibare, Young Fathers, with a specially commissioned soundtrack by Jillionaire of Major Lazer. Curated by Zak Ové.

This summer, Somerset House celebrates the impact of 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond, with a landmark exhibition showcasing art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion.  It is the first time that this distinguished group of approximately 100 artists are represented together, with their work articulating and addressing the Black experience and sensibility, from the post-war era to the present day. 

Historic artworks and new commissions sit alongside items from personal archives, much of which has never been seen by the public before. Through these original photographs, letters, films and audio clips, the exhibition connects the creative, the personal and the political, reflecting how artists have responded to the issues of our times.

Curated by acclaimed artist Zak Ové, Get Up, Stand Up Now begins with the work of his father, Trinidadian Horace Ové, credited as the creator of the first feature film by a Black British director, and his pioneering peers who were part of what is now known as the Windrush generation, such as Armet Francis, Charlie Phillips and Vanley Burke.  During the 1960s and 1970s, they developed a new creative model for modern multicultural Britain, paving the way for the next generation of artists, such as John Akomfrah, Sonia Boyce and Steve McQueen, who all contribute to the exhibition.  Get Up, Stand Up Now extends to works from today’s brilliant young Britain-based talent too, including photographer Ronan McKenzie, fashion designer Mowalola Ogunlesi and musician Gaika, who interrogate identity in innovative ways.  Carrying forward the line of enquiry and internationalist ambition established by Horace Ové and his dynamic creative circle, a number of renowned contemporary diasporic artists also participate in the exhibition, including David Hammons, Carrie Mae Weems and Sanford Biggers.

Curator Zak Ové has invited each artist to exhibit on account of their significant contribution to shaping our cultural landscape.  All the artists’ trailblazing work transforms their local experiences into a global, universal language, which challenges the systems of power and representation and continues to change the consciousness of society today. 



Many works reflect on the act of remembrance and recognition of places and people, acknowledging the significant contribution of Black culture and individuals, both those renowned today and those overlooked or forgotten by history.

One of the show’s opening works includes award-winning film maker Steve McQueen’s poignant Remember Me, his first work conceived in neon and consisting of three handwritten versions of its title.  Originally made in the wake of McQueen’s celebrated film installation Ashes, about the violent and premature death of a young Grenadian man, it was personally chosen by McQueen for Get Up, Stand Up Now.  McQueen’s meditation on memory is particularly pertinent in relation to the impact of Horace Ové, whose work is recalled throughout the show by subsequent generations of artists.
Michael X, who once claimed to be “the most famous Black man in Britain” as the self-styled leader of the British Black Power movement, is shown alongside supporters John Lennon and Yoko Ono in an unseen shot by Horace Ové, recently discovered in his personal archives.  The activist lived in the flat above the Ové family and many of the British Black Power meetings took place in the Ové’s garden.  His life is also mined in John Akomfrah and Black Audio Film Collective’s most controversial film Who Needs a Heart.  Michael X’s US counterpart Leroy Eldridge Cleaver is captured with his wife Kathleen by Gordon Parks, one of the most important figures of twentieth century film and photography and a significant influence on many Black British creatives.  Parks is the first African-American to produce and direct major motion pictures, including the original Shaft film, and became the first Black photographer for Life and Vogue magazines.  Photo conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas draws a striking parallel between a labourer and an American football player, depicting the athlete in a kneeling stance in his 2011 work Cain't See in the Mornin' til Cain't See at Night.

The 2017 Turner Prize winning artist Lubaina Himid’s painting Venetian Maps: Ceramicists represents the contribution made by Africans to the cultural history of Venice.  The Oscar-nominated cinematographer of Arrival and Selma, Bradford Young, is reworking his video installation REkOGNIZE, especially for the exhibition.  It documents the Hill District of Pittsburgh, where millions of African-Americans migrated in the early 20th century, becoming a centre of artistic creation.  Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson’s intricate tapestries compile images of murder victims in the crime scene, uploaded onto social media from around the world.  The works are highly embellished with beads, glitter, flowers, fringing and appliqué fabrics, seducing viewers into witnessing the underreported brutality experienced by those of lower socioeconomic standings, often from Black communities.
Photographer Ajamu showcases his sublime series of portraits of young Black British queer artists, activists and cultural commentators.  Birmingham-based artist Barbara Walker’s detailed drawings recall Britain’s Black servicemen. Created using archive material from the First and Second World Wars, the pictures are a powerful reminder of how they are often missing in representations of the British Armed Forces.

Music plays an important part in Get Up, Stand Up Now, exploring the immense influence of Black artists on many genres of music.  Somerset House has commissioned two new audio works, especially for the exhibition.  The stratospheric DJ Jillionaire, one third of supergroup Major Lazer, has mixed an exclusive soundtrack to be streamed inside the gallery.  He has created a musical bridge between the generations in Get Up, Stand Up Now, bringing his take on the beats of calypso and soca, straight from the streets where he grew up in Trinidad, to the sounds of Afrofuturism. Artist Libita Clayton will orchestrate live percussive performances inside the space on select dates, exploring ideas of resistance through rhythm and language.
A host of musicians have also selected objects to go on display, which speak of their musical inspirations and creative processes.  Each object is additionally accompanied by a playlist curated by the musician.  Contributors include reggae maestro Dennis Bovell, a musician and producer on many classic hits, having collaborated with the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Slits, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Horace Ové on the seminal television series Empire Road.  Sons of Kemet’s frontman Shabaka Hutchings – who is performing at this year’s Somerset House Summer Series with American Express – has given the clarinet gifted to him by legendary jazz musician Courtney Pine. 
Somerset House Studios resident Jenn Nkiru – one of Jay Z’s and Beyoncé’s collaborators on APESH*T – showcases her trailblazing films, made with the likes of Neneh Cherry and Kamasi Washington.  Her fellow Studios artist Gaika presents his new immersive installation Heaters 4 the 2 Seaters, inviting visitors into his signature subversive and satirical take on the current political and geo-economic climate.

Clips from Horace Ové’s seminal 1970s documentaries Reggae and King Carnival will also be shown.  One of the first documentaries made on Reggae music, Reggae features exclusive footage from a festival held at Wembley Stadium in 1970 and King Carnival charts the history of the Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, commissioned for the BBC series The World About Us.  Carnival is referenced in numerous exhibition works, recognising the rich symbolic and historical significance of colonial independence through this celebration.  Rarely seen archive materials documenting Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s biggest street festival, will also be on display.
A series of sculptural works represent self-identity and transformation.  Fashion’s favourite new designer Mowalola Ogunlesi will create a new life-size mannequin of an Afrofuturistic cowboy, complete with guitar to conjure a future-facing soundtrack, drawing inspiration from the street style and sounds of Lagos.
Berlin-based artist Satch Hoyt presents Ice Pick, an Afro hair pick cradled in an upholstered musical instrument case, usually carried by classical orchestras.  It is accompanied by a rhythmic soundscape of two African-American women performing the daily ritual of combing their hair with wooden, plastic and metal picks.  Faisal Abdu’Allah, who works as a barber alongside his artistic and academic practice, brings his gold-plated The Barber’s Chair to the show, recognising the barber’s salon as an indistinguishable site of communal exchange and comradery.  David Hammons also draws inspiration from African hair in his Hair Relaxer.  The title refers to the painful practice of ‘relaxing’ or straightening African hair, yet the sculptural installation shows a long head of hair, unstraightened and retaining its natural kinkiness, lying at ease on an old-fashioned chaise lounge, often used in the representation of female beauty in European art.
The archives of Althea McNish, Britain’s first Black textile designer of international repute who brought tropical colour to British textiles and changed interior design trends, have been referenced for the exhibition.  McNish’s work resonates with Yinka Shonibare’s trademark wax batik fabric, summoned in Self Portrait (after Warhol) and incorporated into the 24-carat gold gun-toting Revolution Kid (Calf) In a new, site-specific commission for the show, Nigerian-American artist Victor Ekpuk creates an Afrofuturistic mural and temple to learning, with bespoke table and seating by exhibition designer Yinka Ilori.
Get Up, Stand Up Now also presents rarely seen work from an exciting range of photographers, who have provided new perspectives in fashion photography, including Ronan McKenzie, Armet Francis and Campbell Addy.
Visitors will have the opportunity to watch feature-length screenings of Horace Ové’s seminal films Pressure and Baldwin’s Nigger, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  Baldwin’s Nigger documents a conversation between the eminent American author James Baldwin, whose books include If Beale Street Could Talk and I Am Not Your Negro, and comedian Dick Gregory.  Ové’s close relationship with Baldwin is further illustrated in a number of intimate photographic portraits. Pressure follows the fictional story of a British-born son of a first-generation Trinidadian family finding himself adrift between two cultures.  Behind the scenes photographs, hand-notated scripts, original film cannisters and letters relating to the film are also shown.

Scottish born, Trinidadian based artist Peter Doig has created original hand-drawn film posters for both Horace Ové and Zak Ové’s films to be screened in Get Up, Stand Up Now. They feature alongside Doig’s numerous alternative film posters, used to advertise his Studio Film Club, free weekly film screenings organised by himself and fellow Get Up, Stand Up Now contributor Che Lovelace in Doig’s Port of Spain studio.

Poems from dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Commonwealth Poetry Prize winner Grace Nichols and former Young Poet Laureates for London Caleb Femi and Selina Nwulu will be vibrantly reimagined throughout the exhibition. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, featuring the poems and new essays from editor of New Daughters of Africa Margaret Busby, artist and curator David A. Bailey and publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove.
An extensive talks and events programme provides exclusive insights into some of the key protagonists and works within the exhibition.

Generation Get Up! Weekend
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 June, 10.00 – 20.00

To mark the national Windrush Day and celebrate the cultural contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants, Somerset House hosts a special weekend of events, welcoming everyone to enjoy delicious street food, music, exclusive film screenings and Q&As with some of the show’s standout stars and ambassadors. 
Masters of the London street food scene, KERB invite a variety of Black British food and drink vendors to Somerset House’s courtyard all weekend long.  Artistic director of Young Vic and exhibition ambassador Kwame Kwei-Armah introduces a screening of his BBC series Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, along with his fellow executive producer Angela Ferreira.  Co-produced with Sir Lenny Henry’s production company Douglas Road, it follows the story of a Caribbean family’s life after arriving in Britain.  Radio presenter, musician and filmmaker Don Letts premieres his film In Those Days, which documents various personal histories from the Windrush generation, whilst Community activist Patrick Vernon relaunches the 100 Great Black Britons campaign, inviting nominations from the public. 
The exhibition will have extended opening hours and 200 exhibition entry tickets will be made available across the weekend at the reduced rate of £5 (£5 tickets must be booked in advance, available on a strict first-come, first-serve basis).  On Friday 21 June, Somerset House has a special Schools Day, inviting local schoolchildren to learn about the contributions of the Windrush generation to the cultural landscape, from people such as exhibition ambassador Floella Benjamin, whose award-winning film Coming to England will be screened.

In Conversation: Caryl Phillips and Linton Kwesi Johnson, hosted by Maya Jaggi
Saturday 7 September, 15.00 – 16.30, £12 / £10 concessions

Novelist, playwright and essayist Caryl Phillips and Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson share insights into their lives and legacies, chaired by Maya Jaggi, writer, editor and one of Britain’s most respected cultural journalists.  Phillips will highlight his connections to the filmmaker Horace Ové, as the writer of his cricket comedy Playing Away, whilst Kwesi Johnson brings his ground-breaking bibliography and discography to life with an accompanying literary reading. 
Held in partnership with Speaking Volumes.

Horace Ové weekend at BFI Southbank
Friday 19 & Saturday 20 July

To complement Get Up, Stand Up Now, BFI Southbank hosts a weekend of talks and screenings celebrating the ground-breaking work, insight and influence of Horace Ové. On Friday 19 July, there will be introduced screenings of Pressure (Horace Ové, 1975), hailed as the first feature film by a British Black director, and Babylon (Franco Rosso, 1980) a rare cinematic portrait of the passion and pain facing young, second generation Caribbean youth in South London’s Sound System culture.  On Saturday 20 July, there will also be an extended seminar on Ové, illustrated with film extracts and rarely seen material.


Dates: 12 June – 15 September 2019
Opening Hours: Sat – Tue, 10.00 – 18.00.  Wed – Fri, 11.00 – 20.00, except for 11 – 21 July and 8 – 21 August, when daily opening hours are 10.00 – 18.00.
Tickets: £12.50/£9.50 concessions/Free for Under 12s. 100 £5 tickets will be released for every Monday and Wednesday throughout the exhibition. These £5 tickets will be made available to book online for the following week. Follow Somerset House on social media for regular updates of when the tickets go on sale. All tickets available at  

Address:  Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
Transport:  Underground: Temple, Embankment / Rail:  Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars

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Hashtag: #GetUpStandUpNow

A Guy Called Gerald, Abe Odedina, Adjaye Associates, Ajamu, Alexis Peskine, Althea McNish, Anthea Hamilton, Anthony Joseph, Armet Francis, Aubrey Williams, Barbara Walker, Barby Asante, Barkley L. Hendricks, Benji Reid, Betye Saar, Black Audio Film Collective - John Akomfrah, Bradford Young, Caleb Femi, Campbell Addy, Carrie Mae Weems, Charlie Phillips, Che Lovelace, Chris Leacock (Jillionaire/Major Lazer), Chris Ofili, Cooly G, Cosmo Whyte, David A. Bailey, David Hammons, Deborah Roberts, Dennis Bovell, Denzil Forrester, Derrick Adams, Don Letts, Ebony G. Patterson, Elizabeth Colomba, Emheyo Bahabba ‘Embah’, Errol Lloyd, Faisal Abdu'Allah, Franklyn Rodgers, Gaika, Gary Simmons, Glenn Ligon, Gordon Parks, Grace Nichols, Grace Wales Bonner, Hank Willis Thomas, Hassan Hajjaj, Helen Cammock, Hew Locke, Horace Ové, Hurvin Anderson, Ishmahil Blagrove, Jay Bernard, Jazzie B, Jenn Nkiru, Julie Mehretu, Kehinde Wiley, Keith Piper, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Larry Achiampong, Lavar Munroe, Lezley Saar, Libita Clayton, Lina Iris Viktor,  Linton Kwesi Johnson, LR Vandy, Lubaina Himid, Marlene Smith, Marlon James, Martine Rose, Maud Sulter, Merle Van den Bosch, Mickalene Thomas, Mowalola Ogunlesi, Nari Ward, Neil Kenlock, Nick Cave, Niyi Olagunju, Normski, Oliver Hardt, Patrick Betaudier, Paul Anthony Smith, Paul Maheke, Pauline Black, Peter Doig, Phoebe Boswell, Rashid Johnson, Rhea Storr, Richard Mark Rawlins, Ronald Moody, Ronan McKenzie, Sanford Biggers, Satch Hoyt, Selina Nwulu, Shabaka Hutchings, Sonia Boyce, Stephen Burks, Steve McQueen, Thick/er Black Lines, Thomas J. Price, Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Vanley Burke, Victor Ekpuk, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Young Fathers, Zadie Smith, Zak Ové, Zanele Muholi, Zoe Bedeaux

Alongside the participating artists, Somerset House has assembled a group of Ambassadors to act as a sounding board during the exhibition’s development.  Ambassadors include Baroness Valerie Amos, Director of SOAS; Darcus Beese, President of Island Records; Baroness Floella Benjamin, actress, broadcaster and campaigner; Robert Devereux, Chairman of the Conduit and Founder of The Arts Africa Trust; Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of Young Vic; Camilla Lowther, photographic agent; Sir Ken Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, and Trevor Phillips, co-author of Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain.

Somerset House is proud to partner with a number of organisations and archives that have documented and presented the work of Black creative pioneers: Autograph, Black Cultural Archives, BFI Southbank, Friends of the Huntley Archives at LMA (FHALMA), George Padmore Institute, June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive, New Beacon Books, Speaking Volumes and Stuart Hall Foundation.  Curatorial consultants include Taylor Le Melle, Deborah Smith and Al Newman.
Somerset House is grateful to the generous support of its Exhibition Catalysts, who are helping to realise Get Up, Stand Up Now. These include executive recruitment and diversity consultancy, Green Park.

Inspiring contemporary culture
One of the city’s most spectacular and well-loved spaces, Somerset House is a new kind of arts centre in the heart of London, designed for today’s audiences, artists and creatives – an inspirational community where contemporary culture is imagined, created and experienced.

From its 18th century origins, Somerset House has played a central role in our society as a place where our culture and collective understanding of the world is shaped and defined. In 2000, it began its reinvention as a cultural powerhouse and home for arts and culture today, creating unique and stimulating experiences for the public, bringing them into direct contact with ideas from the greatest artists, makers and thinkers of our time. Our distinctive and dynamic year-round programme spans the contemporary arts in all its forms, from cutting-edge exhibitions and installations to annual festivals, seasonal events in the courtyard including Film4 Summer Screen, Summer Series and Skate, and an extensive learning and engagement programme.

As well as welcoming over 3million visitors annually, Somerset House houses the largest and most diverse creative communities in the country – from one-person start-ups to successful creative enterprises including British Fashion Council, Dance Umbrella, Improbable Theatre, Hofesh Shechter Company, and Dartmouth Films.

In 2016 we launched Somerset House Studios – a new experimental workspace connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. Currently housing over 80 artists and Makerversity (a community of over 250 emergent makers), the Studios are a platform for the development of new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies.

Zak Ové had an early start to his career. Aged 10, he willingly carried cameras for his father Horace, and trailed behind the associated film crews that took them between Africa and the Caribbean as Horace explored the ‘Black experience’. Zak would continue this passion, and studied film at St Martins School of Art whilst also pursuing photography. Influenced by Trinidad’s steel pan, Zak had become an accomplished percussionist, and music and art would remain the mainstay of his work as he became a music video director, moving to New York shooting classic videos for artists including Chaka Demus and Pliers, Moni Luv, PM Dawn and Patra (featuring Tupac). Extending his work into advertising, Zak directed a range of campaigns, but his favourite was a set of Guinness adverts featuring Lee Scratch Perry. Scratch’s sensibility of improvisation and freedom of creativity left its mark on Zak and as he became disillusioned with the commercial world. He returned to Trinidad to document Carnival and its old time masquerade, which would ultimately inspire him to begin creating sculptural artworks. 

Today, Zak’s multi-disciplinary practice focuses on sculpture but still includes film and photography. His work is informed in part through the history and lore carried through the African diaspora to the Caribbean, Britain and beyond, with a particular focus on the traditions of masking and masquerade. His artworks explore interplay between old world mythology and what he posits as ‘potential futures’, a space where he reinterprets existence into the fantastical. Using modern materials, and ‘a sound clash of colour’, he blurs the edges between reality and possibility, flesh and spirit.

Zak has presented sculptural installations in the Great Hall at the British Museum, San Francisco Civic Centre, Somerset House, The New Art Centre, Roche Court and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. He is included in the collections of 21C Museum Hotels, Beth de Woody Collection, British Museum (Sainsbury Africa gallery), Facebook, Levett Collection, Modern Forms and Newark Museum among others.

Horace Ové, CBE is internationally known as one of the leading Black independent filmmakers to emerge in Britain since the post-war period. His 1976 film Pressure is cited in the film Guinness Book of Records as the first feature-length film made by a Black British director.

Ové’s film career has produced such diverse films as Baldwin's Nigger (1969); Reggae (1970) and The Mangrove Nine (1973), directed by Franco Rosso.  He has done much innovatory work in television. He directed various episodes of the groundbreaking series Empire Road (1978-9), which for the first time addressed Britain’s multicultural society and The Latchkey Children (1978-9), the first multi-racial children's drama.

Ové has also directed drama on stage, including Lindsay Barrett’s Blackblast (the first play performed at the ICA written by a Black writer, staged by a Black director and featuring an all-Black cast), The Swamp Dwellers by Nobel Prize-winner Wole Soyinka and The Lion by Michael Abbensetts (starring Madge Sinclair, Stefan Kalipha and Danny Sapani).

Alongside a film career, Horace Ové has worked extensively as a photographer, and over the years has exhibited across the world as well as having retrospectives at UCLA, the British Film Institute and the University of' Tuebingen in Germany.

His Breaking Loose was the first exhibition by a Black photographer at The Photographers’ Gallery. In 2004, Autograph ABP in Partnership with Nottingham Castle Museum organised his retrospective entitled Pressure, featuring his social and political reportage work from the 1960s and 1970s.  It toured Britain, moving to the University Brighton Gallery, the Norwich Gallery, Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Wales and the Arts Depot in London. He also had an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2005, work exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the Tate Liverpool, and the Whitechapel, and a retrospective of his film and photographic work was held at the Barbican in London.

Horace Ové has won many awards. He was named Best Director for Independent Film and Television by the British Film Institute in 1986.  In June 2007 he was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen, being made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to the film industry in the UK.

Horace Ové’s work, characterised by innovative treatment of sometimes controversial subject matter, makes him a model for emerging film makers. As the British Film Institute states in 100 Years of Cinema: “Horace Ové is undoubtedly a pioneer in Black British history and his work provides a perspective on the Black experience in Britain.”

Established in 1993 by Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder
Pounder’s diasporic collection includes about 500 works of art, which aim to capture the temperament of the times through which she has lived. With a career spanning over 40 years, the actress was first celebrated for her strong female roles in television shows such as ERThe Shield and Sons of Anarchy, as well as films including Avatar, Orphan, and Baghdad Café. Pounder opened an art gallery in Los Angeles, the Pounder-Kone Art Space and also founded with her late husband Boubacar Kone the Musée Boribana, the first privately owned contemporary art museum in Dakar, Senegal. It featured works by local artists and pieces from the African diaspora including the United States, Jamaica, Guadeloupe and Haiti.