Written by us, Not about us

Reclaiming Art Histories & Developing Critical Discourse in Northern Ireland and Nigeria

Northern Irish Art Network (NIAN)- Anna Liesching, Clare Gormley and African Artists' Foundation ( AAF)

Ends 26 May 2023


'Written by us, Not about us: Reclaiming Art Histories & Developing Critical Discourse in Northern Ireland and Nigeria' aims to address a particular challenge in relation to the lack of critical discourse surrounding the arts, particularly the visual arts, in Northern Ireland and Nigeria. While both countries have a strong literary tradition, this has not translated to an equally strong practice of criticism, analysis or discourse in relation to the visual arts. As a result, there is an inadequate record of our art histories and little international recognition given to contemporary art practice in each country. What does exist has too often been written about, not by us, and in most cases the vibrant and urgent work emerging from these non-arts-epicentre countries often goes unseen. This has amplified the sense of a ‘voicelessness’ often experienced by the people of colonised nations; a sense that their perspective, knowledge and cultural offering is not of significance. This project aims to rectify that by bringing together the two dominant artist support organisations of each country to deliver a collaborative programme of mentoring, commissioning and advocacy work. Embedding artist support and institutional learning at its core, over the course of a year, NIAN
Northern Irish Art Network
and AAF African Artists' Foundation will work together to identify four emerging arts writers/critics from each country (eight in total); commission new writing; create platforms for the publication of work; and lobby the national and international arts press to better represent the art scenes of Nigeria and Northern Ireland.

More information is on our research site, see here.


'Written by us, Not about us: Reclaiming Art Histories & Developing Critical Discourse in Northern Ireland and Nigeria' is funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants, which are designed to support UK and overseas organisations to collaborate on international arts projects.