Visit to The Stuart Hall Library At Iniva, London

Iniva Logo

Iniva Logo

I went up to Shoreditch to visit the Stuart Hall Library at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) as part of an ARLIS Professional Development Commitee visit. Just a 5 minute walk from Old Street tube station and just off Shoreditch High Street, it’s pretty easy to find. Rivington Place sits on a side street and has a welcoming entrance foyer with a café for a little ‘pick-me-up’.

Stuart Hall Library

Stuart Hall Library

Nicholas Brown, the Library & Information Manager at the Stuart Hall Library (SHL), came to meet us and took us up to the library on the second floor. The library is smaller than I had expected it to be (as it is a Special Collections Library), but as Nicholas began to speak, I realised that the size of SHL was totally deceptive to the wealth of knowledge and information it holds. “Iniva’s library is a unique facility for the contemporary visual arts, a gateway for bringing the work of culturally diverse artists to the widest possible audience and providing that work with a critical, theoretical and historical context.” – Iniva’s website

Iniva was founded in 1994 with its purpose to address and support the imbalance of representation of culturally diverse artists in the UK. Their mission statement is to ‘facilitate and promote issues of cultural identity within the visual arts’. However, they actually support and promote wider issues of sex, gender, race, and feminism but their primary focus is on black African and Asian artists and history. They engage with ideas and debates, working with artists, writers, curators, creative producers, to support the visual arts within today’s diverse contemporary society. Iniva’s programming includes exhibitions, education & research, digital projects, publications and the Stuart Hall Library.

The library is named after the cultural theorist and sociologist, Stuart Hall, who was also the chair of Iniva’s Board of Trustees until his passing in 2008. Partnering with Autograph, they have built Rivington Place to be a centre of excellence in supporting the visual arts from contemporary society. The library holds a large collection of monographs, catalogues, periodicals, slides, DVDs, CDs and over 4000 exhibition catalogues on visual arts and culture.

Delaine Le Bas 'Witch Hunt'

Delaine Le Bas ‘Witch Hunt’

Nicholas had laid out a large display of some of their resources, to show us the history of Iniva’s work and the diverse range of artists and work they support. From their exhibition ‘Veil’ by collaborative artists to ‘Witch Hunt’  and ‘To Gypsyland’ by Delaine Le Bas; two examples of work voicing the marginalisation of social and cultural groups.

Prior to 2004, Iniva’s promotion of cultural diversity and identity was perhaps more political and oppositional than in more recent years. Promoting and supporting various artists’ exhibitions across venues such as the Hayward Gallery, Tate and the ICA; they helped to challenge social views and illuminate phases of cultural history, giving the artists a platform to raise their voices.

The library also holds a collection of Artists’ Books and are currently calling out for zines, to grow their collection of those. Coming up in April they are holding a series of Art Therapy workshops for personal and professional development. Click here for more details.

For more information about Iniva click here or to see the Stuart Hall Library pages click here.

You can find resources here at WSA on Outsider Art at 704.9491 & if interested in Art Therapy, you can find resources at 615.85156 in Library 1.

Robynne Willowby, April 2015

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