Join the WOCI Reading Group in exploring, activating and indexing representations of cultural identity within the Panchayat Special Collection at Tate with Janice Cheddie and Shaheen Merali


Join the WOCI Reading Group in exploring, activating and indexing representations of cultural identity within the Panchayat Special Collection at Tate with Janice Cheddie and Shaheen Merali

Date: Friday 29th June 2018
Time: 10.30am – 1.00pm
Address: Tate Britain, Library & Archive Reading Rooms, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

The Women of Colour Index (WOCI) Reading Group aims to improve visibility for women of colour artists whilst using material in the library and archive to generate discussion and practice around current social and political concerns.

In these collaborative monthly research sessions at Tate, the WOCI Reading Group will draw upon the Panchayat Special Collection during its anniversary year; collectively exploring and highlighting the unique material within this vital collection of rare publications and exhibition ephemera from the 1980s. All people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, disabilities, religions and race are welcome.

Workshop Reading Text:
‘We should be concerned to provide an education for girls and boys together, for black and white children together, for children of all social classes together. Experience has demonstrated that a re-examination of educational provision from the point of view of a group of children disadvantaged by it produces a perspective of change and improvement of educational benefit to all the children, including those who are the apparent beneficiaries of the existing system. The current examination system for example does not simply disadvantage the “bottom 40%” it is an ineffective and inadequate method of recording the achievements of the sixty per cent who in some sense survive within it. It is not simply educationally undesirable that attitudes and values of educational institutions should be based on assumptions of differential provision in relation to gender, class or ethnic origin; the quality of the education itself suffers too’.
ilea (Inner London Education Authority) Race, Sex and Class, 1. Achievement in Schools, 1983

About the Panchayat Special Collection
Panchayat was co-founded by Shaheen Merali and Allan de Souza in 1988, after consultation with artists Bhajan Hunjan, Symrath Patti, and Shanti Thomas. Panchayat was first organised by its co-founders as a project based arts organisation whose focus was to create an archive of works by contemporary artists who produced issue-based work, often in relation to developing and addressing plurality in multicultural environments. As Panchayat developed it was involved in publishing, curating exhibitions, programming conferences, and workshops.

The Panchayat Collection consists of documentation and reference library material relating to the cultural activities and activism predominantly in Britain, mainland Europe, North America and SE Asia between the 1980s and 2003. The Panchayat archive’s collecting strategy focused on the growing interactions within a globalising art world of Black and Asian artists, as well documenting their commitment to the intersection between race, class, gender, policed sexualities, and (dis)ability. Dr Janice Cheddie and Shaheen Merali were keepers of the Panchayat Archive at the University of Westminster 2002 -2015 and remain central to its future development.

In May 2015 the contents of the collection were donated to the Tate Library as part of its Special Collection and since then has attracted researchers from both the arts and the humanities, including newer audiences that are interested in diasporic connections, Black and Asian British artists 1988- 2003, curatorial practices that emerged in the late eighties and in the role of women of colour in the visual arts and education.

Janice Cheddie was born in St. Lucia, West Indies and arrived in the UK with her mother and older brother in the 1960s. She is a London based researcher, writer and consultant who works across academia and cultural policy. She has a PhD in Cultural Studies. Janice Cheddie has published widely on issues of visual culture and difference. Between 2002-2015, she was, with Shaheen Merali, Keeper of the Panchayat Special Collection. She is currently an Associate Lecturer, at University of Greenwich. She was Visiting Senior Lecturer in Art History/Art Education, Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies, Cavehill Campus, Barbados (2009-2010). 2005-2009 she was the lead consultant for the Heritage Diversity Task Force, Greater London Authority (GLA), London and associate editor of ‘Embedding Shared Heritage’ GLA, (2009). 2006-2008, she was a core member of the Dress and African Diaspora Network collaboration between Victoria and Albert Museum, University of California, Davis, and Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London. Work of the Dress and the African Diaspora network, features in a special edition of Fashion Theory, Berg, 2010.  2000-2005, she was Arts Humanities, Research Council, Research Fellow on ‘Translating the Image’ Cross-Cultural Contemporary Arts’, Goldsmiths College, University of London, led by Professor Irit Rogoff.

Shaheen Merali is a curator and writer, currently based in London, who explores the intersection of art, cultural identity and global histories in his work. Previously, he was a key lecturer at Central Saint Martins School of Art (1995- 2003); a visiting lecturer and researcher at University of Westminster (1997- 2003) and the Head of Department of Exhibition, Film and New Media at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2003-2008) where he curated several exhibitions accompanied by publications, including The Black Atlantic; Dreams and Trauma- Moving images and the Promised Lands; and Re-Imagining Asia, One Thousand years of Separation. Merali was the co-curator of the 6th Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2006) and co-curator of Berlin Heist or the enduring fascination of walled cities for the 4th Mediations Biennale, Posnan, Poland (2014). His recent exhibitions include Refractions, Moving Images on Palestine, P21 Gallery, London; When Violence becomes Decadent, ACC Galerie, Weimar; Speaking from the Heart– The Polemic Sensibility from Iran, Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam and Fragile Hands- A curatorial essay on stated subjectivities, University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Masterclasses in 2015 include a series of talks on Globalisation at the London School of Contemporary Arts (LCCA) and Collaboration Strategies for the Amsterdam-based collective The State of L3. In 2017, the first of a series of monographs edited by Merali has been released by Isolated Labs (Tavares Strachan) and forthcoming release by Carrots Publishing (JJ XI). His essays have been included in recent publications including, Conflict And Compassion: A Paradox of difference in Contemporary Asian Art Edited by Bashir Makhoul and Alnoor Mitha, HOME Manchester, 2016; The Live Art Almanac Volume Edited by Harriet Curtis, Lois Keidan and Aaron Wright, Oberon Books London; Contemporary Art from the Middle East, Edited by Hamid Keshmirshekan, IB Tauris, 2015; Dissonant Archives, Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East, Edited by Anthony Downey, I.B.Tauris, 2015; In FLUX, Contemporary Art from Asia, Edited by P.D.Mukherji, N.P.Ahuja, K.Singh, Sage Publications, 2013 and Public Notice 3: Jitish Kallat at the Art Institute of Chicago, ed. by Madhuvanti Ghose. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University Press, 2011.

About the WOCI Reading Group
The Women of Colour Index Reading Group was set up in October 2016 by artists, Samia Malik, Michelle Williams Gamaker and Rehana Zaman. WOCI sessions have focused on seminal exhibitions such as Testimony: Three Black Women Photographers (1986) and The Image Employed: The Use of Narrative in Black art (1987) and artists such as Zarina Bhimji, Martina Attile, Jagjit Chuhan, Sharon Curtis, Nina Edge, Maxine Walker, Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce and Chila Kumari Burman.

The WOCI Reading Group follows keenly in the footsteps of Rita Keegan who compiled the index and Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Lauren Craig, Mystique Holloway, Gina Nembhard and Zhi Holloway, who as the formidable art and art research collective X Marks the Spot (XMTS), took the Index as the focus for their residency at the Women’s Art Library in 2012 culminating in the publication Human Endeavour.

To book tickets please visit Tate Webpage:


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