African and Asian Visual Artists Archive

View all images from the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive

History and Context

Artwork: Pantheon Series, Bharti Parmer

Aavaa had grown to become the most comprehensive slide archive of contemporary visual art by artists of African and Asian descent working in the UK since the post-war period. Founded in Bristol by Eddie Chambers in 1989, with funding from the Arts Council and the Gulbenkian Foundation, the archive emerged at a time when institutions were opening up to the enriching potential of diversity in the visual arts. However, at the time of the archive's emergence there was a severe lack of information pertaining to the work of many of the artists we now see in the Aavaa collection. Artists that have made a significant contribution to the British and international arts scene. In 1995 the archive relocated to the University of East London where it is now based as a Research Centre at the spectacular new Docklands Campus.

The collection holds a diverse and distinctive range of material available for research. Aavaa's main objective is to document, collect and encourage reflection on the artistic developments that have taken place in Britain and internationally since the latter part of the twentieth century. The archive houses over 6,000 slides of artworks and exhibitions, as well as publications and videos about and by artists. There are over 200 individual artist folders, as well as curators, art historians, cultural critics and arts organisation files.

The JIDI Images

The slide collection is divided into two main areas: installation views of exhibitions and individual artists' work. The 1,946 images that reside on the VADS database were made possible by the JISC Image Digitisation Initiative (JIDI), which has enabled Aavaa to begin the process of digitally conserving its collection. These 12 artists represent an important cross range of artforms in the Aavaa slide collection. With such works by recent graduates like Amanda Francis (A Cosy Couple, 1997) to the early modernist sculptures of Ronald Moody (Midonz, 1937) who arrived in England in the 1920s. The exhibition slide collection contains key thematic shows such as The Other Story which was curated by Rasheed Araeen at the Hayward Gallery in 1989, as well as slides of shows curated at the Black Art Gallery in London, a gallery space that closed in the early 1990s.

Photograph: Positive Images of Black People Series, David A. Bailey

In addition to running a research centre, Aavaa also has a programme of activities that aim to raise the profile of the Contributors represented in the collection. The Aavaa Programme centres on the creation and dissemination of new and re-evaluated material. The primary focus over the next few years is to develop a digitisation strategy that puts this growing collection onto a database and then makes the database accessible on the internet as an invaluable research tool for generations to come.

The archive is not currently open to the public. For enquiries, please contact the Director using the contact details at the bottom of this page.

Copyright and Permitted Uses

The images and metadata presented in the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive are copyright of the artists. They may be used for private research and study purposes only. Enquiries regarding reproduction should be sent to Eddie Chambers C/O

Artwork: Purdah, Shanti Thomas

Image credits



about        contact        terms of use        image credits        cookies        © 2018