HUJUI KITU is a Swahili phrase meaning ‘you know nothing’ and is a good rubric to adopt in life, because if you know nothing you may begin to learn something whereas if you think you know everything you will never learn anything.  I was educated at Malvern, Brasenose College Oxford and Heatherley’s School of Art before becoming a curator of the African collections of the British Museum in 1987. My doctorate in Professional studies by Public Works is from Middlesex University. The Sainsbury African Galleries opened to the public at the BM in 2001, and as curator I have concentrated in particular on building up the Museum’s collection of textiles and contemporary African art. I have worked with artists in many African countries and around the world, while at the same time developing my own practice in London, first at the Small Mansion Arts Centre, Gunnersbury, then at Palace Wharf, Fulham and now at West London Art Factory, Acton, where I currently have my studio. I have helped to organise TRIANGLE artists’ workshops in Mozambique, Ghana and Nigeria, and recently co-curated the exhibition SOUTH AFRICA The Art of a Nation at the BM which included the work of more than twenty South African contemporary artists.

The medium I used to express this human interaction was founded on the eternal qualities of oil and water, embracing or rejecting in an infinite variety of ways…

Chris Spring

Selected Group Shows

1982 Jubilee. Hamilton’s Gallery London

1996 Figureworks. The Small Mansion Arts Centre, London

1997 Checkout. Waterman’s Arts Centre, London

1998 Well Hung. The Small Mansion Arts Centre, London

2000 Family. Karen Taylor Contemporary Art, London

2001 Beyond the Boundaries. Artmonsky Arts

2002 Summer Exhibition, Diesel House, London

2002 Interiors. Karen Taylor Contemporary, London

2003 Small Mansion Artists, London

2008 Inspired!: The British Museum, London

2014 2nd International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Casablanca, Morocco

One Person Exhibitions

1987 Drawings and Dreams. Theatre Royal, Winchester

1989 Drawings and Dreams II. Athawes Art Gallery, London

1998 Down the Garden Path. Small Mansion Arts Centre, London

1999 Innocence and Experience. Studio Gallery, London

2001 Green and Dying. Jersey Galleries, London

2004 Lifelines. Kufa Gallery, London

2005-13 Association for Cultural Advancement through the Visual Arts

2015-16 West London Art Factory

African Arts

Exhibitions curated and co-curated at the British Museum include:

1995-96 Power of the Hand: African Arms and Armour.

1995-97 Display and Modesty: North African Textiles.

1995-96 Secular and Sacred: Ethiopian Textiles.

2001 Africa: the Sainsbury African Galleries.

2005 Kanga: Printed Cloth from eastern Africa

2007-09 La Bouche du Roi: an artwork by Romuald Hazoumé

2010 A South African Landscape

2013 Social Fabric: African Textiles Today

2016 South Africa The Art of a Nation

Published Books and Co-Authored Works

1989 African Textiles. London. (2nd edition. 1997)

1989 Swords and Hilt Weapons. London. (repr. 1993, 1996).

1991 African Textile Design. Kyoto, Japan.

1993 African Arms and Armour. London and Washington, D.C.

1995 North African Textiles. London and Washington, D.C.

2000 Africa: Arts and Cultures. London.

2002 Silk in Africa: London.

2008 Angaza Afrika: African Art Now; London, New York and Cape Town

2009 African Art in Detail; London and Washington DC

2012 African Textiles Today, London and Washington DC

2015 African Art Close-Up London and Washington DC

2016 South Africa The Art of a Nation

Upcoming Events


153 Dukes Road, London W3
Open Studios in association with Ealing Art Beat on 15th – 16th September