John Akomfrah

John Akomfrah

John Akomfrah

Seminal filmmaker and founding member of Black Audio Film Collective, John Akomfrah, OBE, will be exploring the BBC's television, film and sound archives as part of Made in England.

Akomfrah will be given unusual access to public, commercial and personal archives for Made in England, in particular to national and local, film, television and radio archives.

He will explore the changing experience of black and migrant labour in Birmingham, showing us how an artist's interpretation of historic material can create an inspiring, new piece of work.

It was as a member of Black Audio Collective that Akomfrah made the celebrated 1986 film Handsworth Songs, looking at race and civil strife in 1980s Britain. This is now widely regarded as the moment when art film and documentary fused, with archival material being used to create a new and powerful aesthetic.

John says: "I am absolutely delighted with this commission. Working with archival material has been an obsession, a passion, a commitment. I can hardly contain myself; it's a chance of a lifetime to rummage through one of the best libraries in the world. I can hardly wait."

The Archives project is just one of a number of strands of Made in England, an exploration of how England makes art and art makes England. Members of the public will be encouraged to get involved in projects that range from becoming a cultural literary detective, to making sound sculpture that reflects the local environment and reworking ancient myths about their locality to create modern legends.

Speaking recently, Alan Davey, Arts Council's Chief Executive said: "We are delighted to join forces with the BBC on Made in England. The BBC's wide-reaching distribution helps us to achieve our mission of great art for everyone, and that is why our partnership with them is so important.

"This national initiative will make John Akomfrah's work and the archive available to a wider audience than ever before."

David Holdsworth, Controller, BBC English Regions says: "It's great that Made in England has got off to such a flying start with an artist of the calibre of John Akomfrah involved. We haven't often open up the BBC archives in this way so I'm really looking forward to seeing the work that John produces."

Follow John's progress by clicking on his blog on the right hand side of this page.

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