Author Archives: jacktan

Global Ethnic Majorities board association

A workshop with Jack Tan, Jade Montserrat and Amy Lawrence

31 March 2021, 6-8pm

Register here.

Calling all Black and Global Ethnic Majorities people (GEM) who are Board members or trustees in UK arts and culture organisations. The initiating group (Amy LawrenceJade Montserrat and Jack Tan) invite you to join a workshop to share insights, experiences and knowledge in order to determine whether there is a need to create a GEM Board Association or similar. 

More than ever, creating solidarity among Black and Global Ethnic Majorities board members from across the UK is an urgent enterprise. They recognise that the experience of GEM board members can be isolating, and physically, emotionally and intellectually challenging. Reports of being gaslit, invisibile-ized and objectified are not uncommon, and they would welcome fellow GEM board members to come together to strategise and collectivise. 

The workshop’s aim is to gather information so that we can collectively decide the next step(s). They will do this by identifying need through sharing experiences and lessons learnt from our time on Boards. Then drawing together themes arising from that sharing, they will clarify common issues and brainstorm our future need. Having gauged interest, they will consider whether or not an Association is needed. If so, they will agree the next steps to determine the kind of structure or further discussion that is necessary.

You will be asked to declare that you are a GEM person and are in, have been in or are about to join a board.

Notes: GEMBA arose out of preparatory discussions for Jade Montserrat’s public conversation “Act 2: Scoring Performance” with Amy Lawrence and Jack Tan.

Image: Jack Tan (2015), Decision Pong: a boardroom decision-making game; ceramics, ping pong balls, conference table. Part of How To Do Things With Rules solo show, ICA Singapore.

In Conversation with Jade Montserrat and Amy Lawrence

Future Collect artist Jade Montserrat invites fellow creative practitioners Jack Tan and Amy Lawrence to join her in a conversation exploring what it means to score a performance.  Making connections between everyday performativity and structured theatrical performance, the discussion will consider how the performing body and a language of gestural notation might inform the drafting of documents and the implementation of organisational policy.  Montserrat is in the process of creating new work for her Future Collect commission at Manchester Art Gallery, encompassing performance, works on paper and a publication, as she explores questions of care in relation to both objects and people in the context of the gallery’s collection and collecting practices. As part of her research process, she has initiated a series of public events in collaboration with other Northern based creative practitioners. Act 2 will inform the making of a new performance, which in its initial development is taking cues from the theatrical oeuvre of Ira Aldridge, responding to the site of Manchester Art Gallery and keeping in mind our current context of physical distancing.

6pm, 16 December 2020 via Zoom


Amy Lawrence creates performative and visual projects using experimental choreography, audio and visual arts often in the form of gatherings, workshops and immersive experiences across galleries, theatre and site specific locations in public spaces.  She produces platforms of live, experimental work, and more recently has begun offering consultations to arts organisations around anti-racism actions and policy making.

Jack Tan makes work that explores the connection between the social, the legal and art. Using social relations and cultural norms as material, he creates performances, performatives, sculpture, video and participatory projects that highlight the rules – customs, rituals, habits and theories – that guide human behaviour.  Prior to becoming an artist, Tan trained as a lawyer and worked in civil litigation as well as in NGOs undertaking human rights cases, policy and anti-racist campaigning work.

Image: Jade Montserrat, “Shadowing/Revue: Ecclesiastes”, 2017.

This talk is hosted by iniva.


Image: Grandville, J. and Forest, E. (1839-1842). Commerce Anglais. Lithograph, asset no. 106779001. © The Trustees of the British Museum. Translation: “You must buy this poison immediately. We want you to really poison yourselves, so that we will have enough tea to comfortably digest our beefsteaks!”

UPDATE:  I have withdrawn from this commission with CFCCA as a result of and in agreement with JJ Chan’s open letter outlining the historic and current “residual colonial perspectives” present in the organisation. Further, revelations on Morgan Quaintence’s radio show Studio Visit about the circumstances of Tiffany Leung’s departure, who was the only Chinese curator in the organisation, made it untenable that this artwork should be framed and presented by CFCCA. A reduced version of this work will now be commissioned by University of Salford Art Collection.

Artist Jack Tan has been commissioned by the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) and the University of Salford Art Collection to create Tale As Old As Time, a series of Bone China afternoon tea sets inspired by a 19th century tradition of British ceramics that commemorated major public disasters on functional pottery. As a contemporary iteration, this work highlights particular moments of disaster in Chinese civil rights history that tend to be overlooked in the broader Black and Asian histories as well as the official canons of Chinese history in the United Kingdom.

The tea set designs are inspired by a selection of tragic events from Chinese civil rights history in the UK over the last 200 years, notably: the Opium (or Tea) Wars (1839-60); the deported and disappeared Chinese seamen from Liverpool (late 1940s); the violent murders of takeaway workers Simon Tang (2013) and Migao Chen (2005); the mass Chinese deaths at Morecambe Bay (2004), Dover (2000) and Essex (2019); and the racialised response to the Foot & Mouth (2001) and Covid-19 (2020) epidemics.

Drawn together in this work, Tale As Old As Time makes visible a number of consistent themes and stresses experienced by the Chinese community over the years: isolation, vulnerability, rural racism, subjection to racist legislation, racial violence and murder, disposability of Chinese bodies and labour, and the association of Chineseness with disease. While these disasters do not exist in isolation from the struggles of the wider British Black and Asian communities, they draw attention to how overt and institutional racism manifests particularly for the Chinese in the UK.

The work will be activated later this year at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in a ‘Chinese Civil Rights Tea Party’. Acting as conversation starters, the tea sets will invite participants into a performativity of tea-drinking and discussion which investigates contradictions in British politics, law and society today.

Artist Jack Tan says:

“Very often Chinese, East and Southeast Asian communities are viewed as trouble-free and inoffensive in Britain. We are good minorities because we work hard and ‘keep ourselves to ourselves’ I’ve heard it said. But our experience of racism is no less fraught or tragic or long; it is one where this inoffensiveness or politeness becomes both how we are perceived and also the manner through which we experience discrimination.”

An element of the work will be shared on the CFCCA and the University of Salford websites on the 31st of July 2020. The final artwork will be displayed in the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery, University of Salford at a date to be confirmed.

Zoe Dunbar, CFCCA Director, says:

“We are extremely excited to be working with Jack Tan for this co-commission with the University of Salford Art Collection. Tale As Old As Time is a pertinent and timely work that explores the struggles and civil rights of the Chinese community in the UK through the colonial history of tea culture. The activation of this work through the format of a civil rights tea party will create a space for much needed conversation, challenge and debate on wider issues of discrimination and equality.”

Lindsay Taylor, University of Salford Art Collection Curator, adds:

“When building the Collection our aim is to tell a story of now to future generations. Covid-19 has been, and indeed remains a challenging time for all, and we want to reflect a number of stories of this time within our Collection. Jack’s work will encourage audiences to consider some of the important and uncomfortable histories within the UK. The work will be a valuable addition to our Collection.”

Jack’s work will be acquired into the University of Salford Art Collection.

Spring Assembly: The Living Planet

I will be speaking at FACT Liverpool and Edge Hill University’s symposium ‘Spring Assembly: The Living Planet’ about Four Legs Good, non-human personhood and legal rights.

“As society starts to grasp the magnitude of climate change, the FACT Spring Assembly invites you to join this year-long cultural inquiry. We will explore some of the questions that underpin the exhibition And Say the Animal Responded? and look at the role and function of art and film for representing, challenging and intervening in the environmental challenges we face.

Speakers include: Professor Claire Parkinson, Co-Director of the Centre for Human Animal Studies at Edge Hill University, Dr Nicola Triscott, CEO of FACT and curator of And Say the Animal Responded?, Professor Susanne Shultz, Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Research Group at the University of Manchester, artist Kuai Shen Auson, and artist Jack Tan.”

Date And Time: Thu, 19 March 2020, 14:00 – 18:00


For more information:

Book here: