Roots/Routes

Donald Rodney, In the House of My Father (1996-97), photographic print on aluminium, 153 x 122cm. Photo: Andra Nelki. Image courtesy of Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © The Estate of Donald G Rodney
Donald Rodney, In the House of My Father (1996-97), photographic print on aluminium, 153 x 122cm. Photo: Andra Nelki. Image courtesy of Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © The Estate of Donald G Rodney

Nottingham Contemporary and the Centre for Black Studies at the University of Nottingham are collaborating on a documentary series centring the work of Black researchers and thinkers in and around Nottingham. The series is directed by Nottingham-based Black feminist filmmaker, Patricia Francis and scored by the ambient/dub duo, Space Afrika.

Drawing inspiration from the seminal work of Paul Gilroy, this series reimagines the exploration of Black lives taking place in the local community. It arises from current conversations about how we write, reflect, and create as Black people working in and around Black Studies in Britain today. Across these films, the voices from local organisers, creatives, and members of the Black Studies PhD at the University of Nottingham discuss the importance of Black thought, imagination, and intellectual presence across digital, urban, and pastoral contexts.

Roots/Routes is supported by the Centre for Black Studies at the University of Nottingham, directed by Hannah Robbins, and is hosted in conjunction with Nottingham Contemporary. It is part of a series of research events highlighting contemporary imaginings by Black people and about Black lives in the U.K. and the diaspora.

Patricia Francis is a filmmaker and Royal Television Society award nominee. Her films include Making Waves (2015), Many Rivers to Cross (2013) and The Art of Oppression (2021). Her practice-based PhD research explores women’s activism through the medium of documentary art film, specifically, how to give volume and primacy to activist women’s voices while addressing how these have been undermined, unheard, or silenced. Francis has had works commissioned by the BBC and sits on the steering group of the Radical Film Network. She lectures in creative documentary making and broadcast media at Nottingham Trent University.

Space Afrika harness ambient, Detroit techno and shades of early nineties Sheffield with a fresh and open approach to composition, a dub techno stripped-down, sealed in a time capsule and sent back from the near future. Closely associated with Brighton/London label, Where to Now?, who slink along a vintage axis of post-punk, On-U Sound, minimal and no wave influences, Space Afrika's diverse and creative radio shows also display a breadth of curiosities in experimental and avant-garde music, old and new.

Maxwell A. Ayamba is a PhD research student in Black Studies, Department of American & Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham. He is an environmental journalist, former Associate Lecturer/Research Associate at Sheffield Hallam University. Maxwell is the founder and co-ordinator of the Sheffield Environmental Movement (SEM) working to promote access to and participation in the natural environment for people from Black & Ethnic Minority Communities. He Co- founded the 100 Black Men Walk for Health Group in 2004 which inspired production of the national play, "Black Men Walking”, by Eclipse and Royal Theatre Production in 2018/19. Maxwell was the first Black person to be a Board Member of the Ramblers Association and has also served on various Boards including Board Member of the Imperial College’ Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) Explore Nature project.

Panya Banjoko is a Nottingham-based poet and PhD candidate at Nottingham Trent University , where she is writing a practice-led PhD rooted in the Nottingham Black Archive, which she founded in 2010. Her debut collection of poetry, Some Things, was published by Burning Eye Books (2018). Her work feature in numerous anthologies including award-winning Dawn of the Unread published by LeftLion magazine (2016). In 2017, her poem ‘One of a Kind’ was commended in the Writing East Midlands Aurora poetry competition and her poem ‘They and Them’ has featured in exhibitions by artist and academic Keith Piper at the Beaconsfield Gallery, the British Film Festival and International Film Festival in Rotterdam as well as the Québec literary festival. Bankojo co-ordinates a Black Writers Network and is patron for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.

Bo Olawoye is a Nottingham based freelance Creative Engagement Manager who specialises in creating arts projects in collaboration with diverse communities and young people. Her work focuses on race, identity and social justice issues. Olawoye has collaborated with Goldsmiths University of London, idle women Lancashire, Mark Deveraux Projects Manchester, New Art Exchange, The Renewal Trust and The University of Austin Texas. Current commissions include Challenge Nottingham We Are Here! a film project about creativity by young people and Chairing City Arts series of steering group meetings with black and POC creatives resulting in the CATALYST programme.

Jagdish Patel works as a socially engaged visual artist, educator and writer. He works primarily around the themes of anti-racism, class, community and well-being. He has helped to establish the Nottingham Centre for Photography and Social Engagement, and Reframed, a Midlands based network for Black and Ethnic Minority photographers. He came to art after working as the Deputy Director of the anti-racist human rights charity the Monitoring Group. Over the past decade, he has worked on many collaborative art projects and has held exhibitions across the country. He is currently working on a research project at Coventry University examining the intersections of socially engaged art practice and anti-racism.

Saziso Phiri is a curator and cultural producer working on visual art exhibitions and festivals. She works independently and in partnership with organisations and individuals. In 2016, Phiri launched The Anti Gallery, a pop-up art gallery that has produced and co-produced almost 30 events with regional, national and international partners including exhibitions, film screenings, artists talks, performances, creative workshops and residencies. Phiri is passionate about supporting early career and emerging artists and occasionally designs and delivers development opportunities. A keen and passionate public speaker, she participates in talks and panel discussions on social practice, artist wellbeing, creative processes, career development in the arts and alternative ways of curating.