Donkor is of Ghanaian, Anglo-Jewish and Jamaican family heritage, and as a child lived in rural Zambia and the English west country.
At the time there were 70,000 artworks in Tate’s collection, with about 15 of the 3,500 artists from both Black and British identities – including Chris Ofili, Sonia Boyce, Donald Rodney, Frank Bowling and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
Donkor approached Leaders of Tomorrow, a leadership and enrichment programme for Black teenagers of African and African-Caribbean heritage in Southwark to find young people who were interested in taking part in an art project. With the help of Peckham Platform, Donkor led a series of after-hours and behind-the-scenes visits for these teenagers to exhibitions at Tate Britain, Tate Modern and to meet art experts at Tate’s conservation studio.
For many of the young people, this was their first visit to a Tate gallery and the first time they had been asked to critically consider and research art works by prominent Black British artists. Following the visits, they discussed, debated and wrote about the relationships between themselves, the artworks, the gallery and Britain’s Black communities.
Inspired by these visits and workshops, Donkor created a new series of large-scale paintings and drawings underpinned by themes of identity, representation and agency.
The exhibition’s wry title, ‘Daddy, I want to be a Black Artist’, is a call to action for young people to find inspiration in Black British artists and become the artists of tomorrow, whilst being acutely aware of white privilege and the safety this brings in life.
To celebrate the work of Black British artists and reconsider their place in UK heritage, a learning zone was installed in the exhibition. These books, resources and material from the young people invited visitors to learn more about the works looked at in the project and about the wider representation of Black British artists within UK contemporary art culture.