Black History Month 2005 - The Herbert Celebrates

By Graham Spicer | 03 October 2005
Shows a painting of the head of a black man

Ben6foothead2002 by Nahem Shoa. Courtesy Herbert Museum and Gallery

Coventry’s Herbert Museum and Gallery is celebrating Black History Month with two new exhibitions.

We Are Here by Nahem Shoa runs until October 16 2005 and presents giant portraits of black and mixed race people’s heads. At least 15 times life size, they explore themes of youth, race identity and urban style.

“My work aims to capture and celebrate the multicultural nature of our society,” explained Shoa.

“I spend weeks or even months working with my models, which helps me to get to know them better. The finished product is more than a giant copy of a model’s head – it is also a larger than life depiction of character.”

Shoa often works on 10 or 11 portraits at any one time and uses a combination of traditional oil painting techniques with strong colours and abstract marks to build layered works.

Shows an abstract yellow and lime coloured painting of an aircraft engine

Detail from Salute to Freedom by Leroy Henry. Courtesy Herbert Museum and Gallery

Salute To Freedom by Leroy Henry, running until November 22 2005, combines themes of black history with the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two.

With vibrant flag colours and wartime symbolism Henry aims to honour the contribution made by Commonwealth citizens who served in Britain’s armed forces.

He uses a unique grafitti-style, spray-painting directly onto the gallery walls and recycled aluminium panels to interpret a Spitfire in flight during the Battle of Britain.

“I feel that the Commonwealth has had a dim light shone on its contribution to World War Two,” said Henry. “I hope my work will be an inspiration for untold stories.”

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