Indian Artists Collectives in Britain

1964-1980

As the sixties progressed, the tide of anti-immigration sentiment was on the rise, fueled by Commonwealth Immigration Controls (1962, 1968 and 1971) and Enoch Powell's incendiary ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

Against this backdrop, Ribeiro and his fellow painters joined forces “to catapult themselves on the British art scene” (Ribeiro 1972 interview) and advocate for artists from the subcontinent. They co-founded the Indian Painters’ Collective (IPC), UK (1963), which evolved into the multicultural Rainbow Art Group (1978) and then Indian Artists UK (1978/79).

These artists never forgot their Indian heritage and all had experienced discrimination firsthand, with. Ribeiro explaining their mission as “trying very hard to penetrate seemingly impregnable barriers ... (in a system) hell bent on ignoring them.”

Ribeiro gave lectures on Indian art and culture and his own art for the Commonwealth Institute and brought an ‘Indian Month’ to London's Burgh House & Hampstead Museum in 1980.

This was an intensive period of group activity, encompassing 12 exhibitions and ventures. Several shows were held both within and outside of the auspices of the collectives; including The Arts of India (Towner Art Gallery/V&A (1966)), Indian Painters (UNESCO International Art Week (1974)) and Four Leading Indian Artists at India House (1978).

These groups eventually dissolved, as artists went their separate ways. Nevertheless the defiant mood of these groups gave a common voice to artists and was prescient in fostering closer ties between the arts and business.

A photograph of Lancelot Ribeiro