RCA BLK and Yinka Shonibare Foundation Partner to Support Artist Residencies

RCA BLK and Yinka Shonibare Foundation Partner to Support Artist Residencies

RCA BLK and Yinka Shonibare Foundation (UK) today announce their partnership on a new artist residency programme in Lagos, Nigeria. Together, the organisations will host two residencies in spring 2024, in collaboration with Guest Artists Space Foundation (G.A.S) in Nigeria; one for an exceptional early/mid-career artist who is an RCA BLK member; and one for a research-based proposal from the wider RCA BLK community.


The Yinka Shonibare Foundation (UK) and Guest Artists Space Foundation (Nigeria) were established in 2019 by the eminent British-Nigerian Artist Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, whose international multi-disciplinary practice explores colonialism and post-colonialism within the context of globalisation.


Yinka’s vision behind the two organisations is to support the development of new work and ideas, foster mutual understanding of cultural differences and break down traditional barriers of privilege and wealth. This is achieved by building access and creating new pathways to education, forging new networks and developing a resilient cultural infrastructure that will enable the next generation to thrive, not just survive. The vision is implemented primarily through hosting and supporting residencies, education, and professional development programmes in both the UK and Nigeria.

The two selected residents are Graeme Smith (RCA MA Ceramics & Glass, 2023) and Remi Kuforiji (RCA MA Architecture, 2021).


L-R Graeme Smith and Remi Kuforiji. Photos courtesy of the artists. 


As part of the residency, the resident artists will be supported with travel, accommodation in Lagos, opportunities to collaborate with local artists and build their networks, basic materials, access to shared on-site multifunctional work/event space and the G.A.S Library and Picton Archive. 


Emily Moore, Chair of RCA BLK, said: “The partnership between RCA BLK and Y.S.F. highlights the importance of sharing and exchanging knowledge, skills and expertise across continents for our wider RCA community. It encourages innovation and cross-cultural dialogue as an inherent currency and a thriving backbone to the work that we are doing within the wider RCA BLK community. We are excited to be the first to initiate these much-needed conversations and look forward to welcoming more in the near future.


The two spring residencies will act as pilots, with RCA BLK aiming to continue to support artists to undertake residencies in Nigeria in the long term. 



The Royal College of Art Association of Black Students, Alumni & Friends was founded as a grassroots organisation and community group in 2020. RCA BLK’s core objectives are to promote, improve and advance education by encouraging and supporting the practice of contemporary visual arts for artists who identify as Black within the RCA community, by fostering relationships with pre-enrolled students, current students and alumni.


Its founding members are Emily Moore, Roxanne Simone, Melanie Issaka, Andy Hart, Josh Woolford, Jerome Ince-Mitchell, Ibrahim Cissé, Michael Forbes, Sheran Forbes, Mary Adeturinmo and Timi Oyedeji. The group currently has over 200 active members made up of current students and alumni with many friends and supporters from the wider RCA Community.


RCA BLK looks to positively impact the experience of students from the African diaspora and build upon the rich legacies of the RCA student body. RCA BLK members are supported through scholarships and bursary initiatives, artist residencies, and mentoring opportunities, as well as regular exhibitions, events and socials. Inspirational alumni who paved the way for the group include Barrington Watson, Sir Frank Bowling, Lubaina Himid, Harold Offeh, Ekua McMorris, Chris Ofili, Sepake Angiama, Dame Magdalene Anyango Namakhiya Odundo DBE, Bianca Saunders, and Althea McNish, as well as supporting tutors and staff both past and present from the wider RCA community Alexandria Smith, Adrian Lahoud, Pamela Golden, Paul Thompson, Halimo Hussain, Nathan Francois and Izzie Mensah to name a few.


Since its inception, RCA BLK has been actioning incremental change within an institutional ecosystem, evolving through a successful tenure of partnerships. The group has initiated the Sir Frank Bowling Scholarship, the RCA BLK x Yinka Shonibare Residency, and the BLACK STAR time capsule. RCA BLK has been recognised by the Samuel Ross Black British Artist Grant programme for its contribution to supporting Black British Artists and was awarded the 2023 Black British Artist Grant. RCA BLK will continue to welcome the visionaries of the future to their growing community as change makers who will have the tools and resources left from the previous generations of RCA alumni to build upon.


Future plans include forming the RCA BLK research hub, establishing new scholarships and international partnerships and relationships as well as hosting an array of exhibitions and events to expand on the discourse and conversations around contemporary art and Design. Please find more information at rcablk.com

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