black to the future

Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, technology, history and fantasy to explore the African experience and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry and to recognise its impact on the here and now.

As part of Black History Month, the Showcase Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of exciting UK artists who are exploring art through a black cultural lens.  Dismantling stereotypes, fusing cultures, and imagining futures are ways in which artists such as – Ade Adesina and Harold Offeh are providing a starting point in the gallery for a range of open and discursive events between October - December about Afrofuturism and how it connects to the city. The gallery will be host to a series of cross disciplinary activities, collaborations, screenings and events that will invite communities to discuss how an Afrofuturism exhibition project, planned for 2020/21, might take shape and have a voice in how the project might evolve.

Rebel music: sound system culture and the story of blues parties in southampton exhibition

Derby Road Southampton once had an international reputation as a red-light district, but what is sometimes ignored is that it was the home of "West Indian" Sound Systems and illegal house parties known as “ Shebeens” or “ Blues" that provided a taste of Jamaican culture with great music, great food AND an opportunity for all to partake of a slice of grassroots Caribbean culture. It also gave an opportunity to express the condition of Black communities at that time in a relatively safe environment.

Rebel Music: Sound System Culture and the Story of Blues Parties in Southampton, an exhibition devised by Don John, will be showing at The Showcase Gallery, Solent University, Sir James Mathews Building from 19th October to 20th December 2019.

This new exhibition that explores the extraordinary story of the ‘Shebeens’ or ‘Blues’ clubs that were a key part of Southampton’s music scene in the 70s and 80s.  Bringing together new artwork, old images and found footage, the exhibition will creatively explore why these sound systems emerged in the city and the impact of Jamaican music on British culture.

The Launch took place on Friday 18th October 2019 from 6pm and also featured a screening of  Mykaell Riley's ‘Bass Culture’  film that explores music from the 60s to the present day and the profound ways in which Jamaican music remade popular music in Britain. The evening  closed with a "Blues Party” in the basement of "The Belgian & Blues” bar opposite the Showcase Gallery

Featured Videos

Don John's interest in Film was first piqued when he produced a theatre event at The Gantry in Southampton in 1993 introducing "The Black and White Media Show" (a John Twitchin concept) an open discussion on Racism in Television. This sparked a desire from many black people in the region to seek ways to have greater control over the content and manner of representation of issues that impacted on black people. This was manifested in the formation of a group called "The Black and Asian Video Panel"; who went on to write, produce and direct a number of films with themes that had a "race" content. Don John was directly involved in writing, directing and producing and has since become involved in other productions with other parties. Some of the films below are being re-edited and it is hoped that they will be available shortly as they show an interesting perspective on how "race" issues were seen by black people in Southampton at the time.

The Ebony Rockers Mural

Shadism: The Politics of Complexion

Southampton city of diversity

Anti racist protest southampton


People Rule Southern TV Alistair Stewart interviews Don John & Ebony Rockers 1980

Black: Lives Matter: The Southampton Response

The Colour of Love Revisited 2013

Everybody's Britain Race Relations Southampton 1979

The Colour of Love 1992

When Bob Marley Came to Britain

'Black to the Future' Afrofuturism exhibit comes to Solent University Meridian ITV News

BBC South Today Black History Month 2016: Photo Exhibition- Humans of Southampton

Black History & BLM Don John in conversation with Dr. David Cox: University of Southampton

Mayflower 400 - Black History in Southampton

Everybody’s Britain: Race Relations in Southampton in 1979 A documentary made By La Sainte Union at that time part of The University of Southampton with an interview by Don John

The Colour of Love  1993 is a thirty minute film directed by Paul Agbaka and Produced by Don John. It is in the form of a studio debate at The Gantry Theatre Southampton. The host is Kiki Maurey and a multi racial audience were locked in debate about issues that impacted on Mixed-race  relationships. The fim viewed now illustrates the very interesting and varied views that people had at that time. (some of the audio is poor sound quality)

The Last Anti-Racism Protest in Southampton1994 Documenting the very last anti-racism protest: Produced by Don John and featuring members of The Black & Asian Video Panel

“Sisters" 1994 is a 45 minute documentary directed by Don John and produced by Veena Josh. Inspired by Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever"; this film showed a contrived gathering of Southampton black women discussing the good and bad points about their relationships with black men prior to one of the gropup getting married.

"Paved With Good Intentions”1996 is an exploration of racism in Southampton at that time and how that racism manifested itself in specific circumstances in the city

"Shadism...The Politics of Complexion”1998 was written, directed and produced by Don John and was the exploration of the values that are attached to people of colour according to their complexion. The film touches upon some issues that Black communities are not very comfortable with and are essentially another form of racism within black communities.

"Southampton:City of Diversity" was Produced and written by Don John and Directed by Robert Clother, this film is a six minute exposition of how culturally diverse the City of Southampton has become. It is delivered as a punchy and quick moving portrayal of  recognisable images, individuals and landmarks that acknowledges the important contributions that many cultures have made to make Southampton the city that it is.

"A Racist Incident" was written and Produced by Don John and Directed by Robert Clother , this 10 minute film is a simple guide to understanding what a racist incident is and what steps can be taken to respond by organisations and individuals. This film also features animated vignettes of different types of racist incidents.

"The Colour of Love Revisited” 2013 is a follow up to the 1993 film, bringing together many involved in there original film and examining how views have now changed. The film features Craig David and Omar and again features a studio audience hosted by Kiki Maurey

“Black: Papa Don’t Take No Mess” 2015 is a celebration of The Million Man March and brings together 50 Southampton Black men performing the James Brown Classic as featured in the Spike Lee movie