Artist Profile: Alberta Whittle

1 September 2020

This month’s profile focuses on Alberta Whittle, whose work, between a whisper and a cry, 2019, is among 38 newly acquired works by 21 artists entering the Arts Council Collection in 2019/20.

Alberta Whittle’s practice aims to develop a visual, oral and textual language to question accepted Western constructs of history and society. Her work frequently reflects on the legacies of slavery, colonialism and the current climate crisis. She connects black oppression with meditations on survival, championing the idea of healing as a form of self-liberation.

At the time Whittle began making between a whisper and a cry, 2019, the Caribbean had experienced three consecutive years of devastating hurricanes and storms. The artist was struck by how people she spoke to in the UK responded apathetically to this global notion of instability, and hoped to open up conversations about what was happening in the Caribbean communities of which she is part.

The work speaks of memory, trauma and tensions between the land, the sea and the weather, revealing the precarity and privilege of geography. It explores theorist Christina Sharpe’s characterisation, in her book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, of ‘the weather’ as an ‘anti-black atmosphere’ in which we all live. The soundtrack and visuals seek to evoke the feeling of being caught and submerged within a wave, asking us to consider our bodies as falling beneath the threshold, and how we can come up for air when the current is dragging us under.

between a whisper and a cry was commissioned for the 2018/19 Margaret Tait Award.

Alberta Whittle is one of ten artists selected by the jury of the cancelled 2020 Turner Prize to receive a £10,000 bursary, in recognition to their significant contributions to new developments in British contemporary art.

Explore the full list of 2019/20 Acquisitions.



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.