Meet the Artist: Michael Forbes

Michael Forbes is an artist based in Nottingham. He graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 1998 with a BA (Hons) in Photography. His work has been exhibited regularly in the region and in international exhibitions in New York, Munich, Zagreb, Arles and Ljubljana. He has had residencies in New York and Jamaica. Michael also has a curatorial practice and has developed exhibitions and events, in parallel with his practice as an artist.

Additionally, through Forbes Projects, Michael is developing Arthaus Nottingham working with property developers and architects to explore the relationship between Art, Design, Architecture and the potential for contemporary design and architecture to generate sales of artwork and property.


Michael Forbes Untitled
Untitled installation view Harley Gallery 2016

Describe your practice for us:

My practice, includes photography, painting and sculptural installations. The work explores my individual and cultural existence and its relationship to history, and is influenced by the connection between Europe and Africa and its impact on world history and contemporary life. Re-appropriating images and objects help me discuss areas of interest, such as diversity and difference, whilst acknowledging history for all its foibles and achievements. The Black Diaspora plays an important part in my thinking in relation to social / political issues around education, intellectual poverty, race, masculinity, exclusion, and wealth, and manifests itself in a range of work.


How long have you been practising?

I graduated with a BA in Photography at Nottingham Trent University in 1998 and I have continued my artistic and curatorial practice since then.


What is the most interesting/inspiring thing you have seen/been to over the last month, and why?

I am great fan of museums and like to attend different ones in different cities I visit. I was in London a couple of weeks ago, and managed to spend some time in the Wallace Collection, which was impressive. I was in Glasgow and Edinburgh visiting artist studios and exhibition spaces recently – I was impressed with the architecture of Glasgow and the spaces available to artists. Although we did see some good example of long-term security of tenure, it is still the same story for most artist studios – lack of security and at the whim of the property owners needs.


Michael Forbes Untitled
Michael Forbes Untitled

Which other artists’ work do you admire, and why?

Regionally – Nadim Chaudry and Geoff Diego Litherland

Nationally – Yinka Shonibare, Vera Kox and a range of the ‘YBSs’ for their business savvy.

Internationally – Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu, Casa Kis Roka and Fendry Ekel

I look at loads of work and shows all the time, and I like the process of being presented with new ideas in a visually engaging way. I love the thought of being shocked…shocked by new work, that introduce me to a particular process, style, conversation the existence of which I was unaware before seeing the work.


Where can people see your work?

My website shows a limited range of my work – I am pursuing working with independent or found spaces. I also invest in property, and I have a few projects in the pipeline, when they are secured I will be using these as temporary spaces to curate show, they include former pubs and office buildings.

I have been working on a photographic project for around 10 years, and would like to develop it, into an exhibition and a book format – Carnival…beyond the glitz of the parade – drawing on the tradition of the African masquerade and the European ‘Carnevale’ – I present the evolving nature of Caribbean Carnival in the UK, with particular focus on events surrounding the sound systems. I will put a book together on Blurb soon and then use this to pursue publishers.

Like many artists, I would like to be represented by a well respected gallery, nationally and Internationally – any offers welcome!


Michael Forbes Carnival... beyond the glitz of the parade
Carnival… beyond the glitz of the parade


Michael Forbes Carnival...beyond the glitz of the parade
Carnival…beyond the glitz of the parade


All images courtesy of the artist. Copyright Michael Forbes


Michael was first interviewed in April 2016.


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