Claudette Johnson: Darker Than Blue

Claudette Johnson: Darker Than Blue

22 June – 15 September 2024

Claudette Johnson is one of the foremost artists working in Britain today.

Her primary subjects are Black women, including herself, and, more recently, Black men. Through these figures, Johnson employs a powerful style to explore the body; her work challenges perceptions of identity, sexuality and wider political and social constraints, particularly those affecting Black diasporic communities.

Our exhibition will present several new works by the artist in the Barber’s freshly refurbished gallery space. It will reveal the intimacy of Johnson’s work, through line drawings and sketches of contrasting scales.

Claudette Johnson was born in Manchester and is deeply connected to the West Midlands through her studies at Wolverhampton University’s School of Art. As the recent exhibition The More Things Change… (April – July 2023, Wolverhampton Art Gallery) explored, Johnson was a vital member of the Blk Art Group formed in 1980, a radical group of artists that began the ongoing challenge to readdress the lack of representation of, and support for, Black artists.

We are honoured to be collaborating with Johnson on this exhibition, which will be the artist’s first solo show in the region. It will be accompanied by an interdisciplinary programme of events. This exhibition follows Johnson’s widely acclaimed retrospective exhibition Claudette Johnson: Presence, at the Courtauld Gallery, London (September 2023 – January 2024).

Learn more about Claudette Johnson:

22 June - 15 September 2024



Lunchtime Talk | Exhibition Introduction

Wednesday 26 June, 1 – 1.30pm 

Free, booking essential  


Barber Lates

Thursday 11 July, 6 – 9pm  

Free, booking essential  

Wander through the galleries after hours, and enjoy a night of art, film and creative activities with friends this summer. We will be joined by CineQ, Birmingham’s Queer Film Festival, screening joyous short films inspired by Claudette Johnson: Darker Than Blue. This event is open to all but in collaboration with the Guild of Students.  


British Sign Language tour 

Saturday 20 July, 1 – 3pm 

Free, booking essential  

Join deaf artist Olivier Jamin for this British Sign Language (BSL) tour of our current exhibition, Claudette Johnson: Darker Than Blue, as he brings a unique perspective on artworks on display. This tour is followed by informal tea and coffee in our foyer.  

There will be an interpreter present. The tour is accessible to both D/deaf and hearing visitors. 


Lunchtime Talk | Studio Practice with Beverley Bennett

Wednesday 7 August, 1 – 1.30pm 

Free, booking essential  

Join artist-filmmaker Beverley Bennett as she reflects upon her own drawing practice and relationship with Johnson’s work, often as a collaborator/sitter


Artist Talk: Claudette Johnson

Friday 6 September, 5.30 – 7pm

Free, booking essential  

Hear directly from Claudette Johnson and Trevor Mathison in conversation with artist-filmmaker Beverley Bennett and art historian, Professor Dorothy Price as they reflect upon Darker Than Blue, their artistic practice and wider research.


Barber Takeover | Stuart Hall Archive Project – Conjunctures

Friday 6 September, 12noon – 5pm

Free, drop-in

A day of film, music and collaboration led by Professor Patricia Noxolo and Dr Rita Gayle of the Stuart Hall Archive Project.