Happening to Be

10 September 2012 – 27th October 2012

Ablade Glover
Ngozi Onwurah
Yinka Shonibare MBE
Andrew Ramroop OBE
Trevor Robinson CBE

An exhibition celebrating the work and achievements of distinguished black alumni from colleges of the University of the Arts London

Lethaby Gallery, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design,
Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AA

Monday – Friday 10 am – 6 pm; Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm. (except – closed on 15 and 22 September). Private View on 17th October 2012 by invitation only.


“City Celebration” 2009, by Alade Glover. Oil paints on canvas, 152 cm x 122cm, Courtesy of Aisha Richards

Professor Ablade Glover OBE (1934), still painting with incredible energy in his late seventies, will be exhibiting recent work. Glover graduated from Central School of Art and Design (now incorporated into Central Saint Martins, UAL) and served for many years as Dean of the College Art at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in his home country, Ghana.

“The Body Beautiful” film still. 1991, Courtesy Ngozi Onwurah (director).

Ngozi Onwurah (1966) is showing a selection of her short films. Onwurah, of white English and black Nigerian heritage, was born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. She is perhaps best known for her acclaimed 2006 BBC TV drama ‘Shoot the Messenger’, which won that year’s Prix Italia as well as two BAFTAs. Since graduating from Saint Martins College of Art, Onwurah’s short films, feature films, TV dramas and documentaries have won numerous international film festival awards. Onwurah is showing a selection of her short films.

2006, Bespoke men’s frock suit in wool/cashmere and mohair boucle stripe; silk shirt, by Prof. Andrew Ramroop OBE. Photo by Ayo Banton 2012.

Professor Andrew M. Ramroop OBE, CM (1952) is one of Britain’s most highly respected master tailors and is exhibiting examples of his work. Professor Ramroop was born in Trinidad and Tobago, attended the London College of Fashion and is now the managing director of Maurice Sedwell Ltd in Saville Row, London. He is renowned for promoting educational excellence in tailoring.

“Orange Man” film still. 1992, Courtesy Trevor Robinson (director) / Quiet Storm Productions

Trevor Robinson CBE (1964) Born in London to Jamaican parents, this multi-award-winning creative director and philanthropist has had a distinguished career in the world of advertising. Before setting up his acclaimed production and creative company, Quiet Storm, he won plaudits for the acclaimed ‘’You’ve been Tangoed’ soft drinks ads. Robinson studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Photograph taken during the filming of ‘Odile and Odette’. Copyright Yinka Shonibare, MBE. Courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. ‘Odile and Odette’ was commissioned and first shown  by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 2005.

Yinka Shonibare MBE (1962) Born in London to Nigerian parents, Shonibare was raised in Lagos. He later returned to the UK and graduated from Byam Shaw School of Art, (now part of Central Saint Martins, UAL). Shonibare was a 2004 Turner Prize nominee, and his ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ sculpture occupied the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square from May 2010 until January 2012. He is showing a maquette of that work, as well as his film installation Odile and Odette.


“This dynamic and thought-provoking display showcases key works by some of the most gifted and internationally acclaimed black alumni from the University of the Arts London. The show pays homage to the creative audacity of each of these stars, all of whom push the boundaries of imaginative possibility. Each work creates an encounter that is at once visually striking and educationally inspiring.”
—Exhibition Curator, Kimathi Donkor

“We are proud that our black alumni have achieved the type of stellar success that ‘Happening to Be’ represents. But we are aware that, like most Higher Education institutions in Britain, we need to raise the average level of degree classification for our black and minority ethnic students, which is significantly below that of white UK students. There is no disparity in talent, and we are researching why there are disparities and how to reduce them. Greater awareness of the breadth and brilliance of black artistic achievement will help to raise expectations and broaden horizons.”
—UAL Dean of Students, Mark Crawley

“Just as the artists represented in this show have dedicated their lives to excellence in their work, so UAL, as Europe’s leading arts and design education institution, located in the world’s most ethnically diverse metropolis, is committed to providing higher education that thrives on diversity, equality and ambition.”
—Aisha Richards, Shades of Noir founder and Project Manager.

“Speaking about equal opportunities for black and minority ethnic students, Yinka Shonibare, MBE said: “Colleges should actively seek to promote their college in a wider range of schools in minority areas.” Professor Andrew Ramroop OBE added:  “I had to go the extra mile to prove my talent, as good was not good enough for a person of colour to succeed.”

Interview with Curator Kimathi Donkor