The Meaning of Style is an exhibition now showing at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham, England Jan 16 – 10 April, 2010. The exhibition explores the presence of African-Caribbean men in Britain over the past forty years and takes its name from cultural theorist Dick Hebdige's classic text Subculture: The Meaning of Style that would transform the way that we view youth and their modes of resistance today.
In much the same way that Hebdige explored the fashion of that time including Rastafari, Mods, Rockers, Skinheads and Punks, this exhibition shows how Black-British youths through the dissonance of their dress, hair and gesture use popular culture styles from sources such as Jamaican dance hall and American hip-hop styling to give themselves agency and visibility. Artists included in the exhibition are Vanley Burke, Clement Cooper, Micheal Forbes, Gerard Hanson, and Barbara Walker who working in different media present a bold statement about the influence of black culture on contemporary Britain. But as challenging as these portraits are it is tempting to consider how they might match up against the works of other Black Diaspora artists such as Ebony Patterson, O'Neil Lawrence and Lawrence Graham Brown whose works also search for substance within style.