Elsa James at Essex

18.10.2021 - 11.02.2022

We are delighted that Elsa James is our artist in residence this autumn. She is currently researching Black communities in Essex for a forthcoming exhibition at Focal Point Gallery, Southend. As part of her research, she will be spending time at the University of Essex’s Colchester campus which has a large percentage of Black students contributing to its community.

Elsa will spend time getting to know Black students who have moved to Colchester and made it their home while studying at the University of Essex. Her conversations with our students will allow her to understand the experiences of young people who are settling into living in the county of Essex for the first time.

These conversations will contribute to Elsa James’s upcoming exhibition at Focal Point Gallery in 2022.

About the artist

Elsa James (b.1968 in London, England) is a British African-Caribbean artist and activist living in Essex since 1999. Her work intervenes in the overlapping discourses of race, gender, diaspora, and belonging. Her black British identity ignites her interdisciplinary and research-based practice, located within the fields of contemporary performance, text-based art, socio-political and socially engaged art; occasionally dabbling with drawing and painting. 

Solo works employ recovery, recollection, and the archives to examine ideas surrounding regionality of race and black subjectivity. Recent works Forgotten Black Essex (2018) and Black Girl Essex (2019), both featured and cited across a range of media, including Art Monthly; Art Quarterly: BBC Essex (radio); BBC London and Look East evening news; Black Ballard magazine; Condé Nast Traveller; Essex Life magazine; Radical Essex book; The Guardian Review and The Great Women Artists Podcast, explore the historical, temporal and spatial dimensions of what it means to be black in Essex; England’s most misunderstood, and, homogeneously white county.