BLACK LIVES MATTER and Zambian art history

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Apartheid, Art, Art Process, Colonialism, Creativity, Freedom Fighters, Human rights, Mpapa Gallery, Politics, Power, Printmaking, Race, Racism, South Africa, War, Zambia2 Comments

Black lives have always mattered – not just since the crisis of George Floyd’s murder. Everyone I worked with in Zambia had always felt the same about the fight against racism and it was fundamental to my own art and my work with Zambian artists. Black lives have mattered for centuries Mpapa Gallery and the best art possible In 1984 […]

Writing, art and the rewriting of history

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Apartheid, Art, Art Process, Colonialism, South Africa, Storytelling, The Shaping of Water, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, Truth, War5 Comments

I’ve had to learn a different history I grew up during the British Empire when Cecil John Rhodes was the hero of school history but I had a great teacher. She was a cynical idealist who toed no party lines. At Cape Town University under the Rhodes Memorial, I followed up her questioning style and explored a more radical history […]

Cuba, art, installations, Zambia, Africa, and the 1989 Havana Biennial

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Art, Creativity, Imagination, Installations, Mpapa Gallery, Politics, Power, Printmaking, Racism, Slavery, War, ZambiaLeave a Comment

Che Guevara and that famous poster Old revolutionaries will remember the importance of Cuban screen prints as propaganda tools for the fight for freedom all around the world. In 1968, my communist friend, Bill, insisted that we visit the Cuban Embassy in London to see this particular brilliant and sophisticated form of art and agitprop. We all remember the poster […]

Stories about wars that stop us remembering to forget

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Art, Migration, Politics, Power, Race, Racism, Storytelling, The Shaping of Water, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, The White and Black Blues, Truth, War, Writing, Writing Process7 Comments

Black Cowboys in the Wild West and African-American soldiers in WW2 There are facts we don’t know and facts we choose not to know because they don’t suit us. There are facts that are hidden from us by politicians and power-hungry people and there are facts which are distorted by the media, by myth-makers, advertisers and film makers. When it […]

Tears, fears, longing, belonging and living.

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Apartheid, Art, Colonialism, Creativity, Displacement, Family, Freedom Fighters, Human rights, identity, justice, Migration, Poetry, Politics, Power, Race, Racism, Religion, South Africa, War, Zambia2 Comments

Why I cried about who I might become “Why do you want to become a French citizen?” I was asked this question at the end of a gruelling two hour naturalisation interview. I burst into tears. “It’s such a difficult and important decision,” I replied, sniffling. “I’ve had to leave too many places I thought of as home. I want […]