I have grown up admiring creatives from all different backgrounds and ethnicities from Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Madonna to salt n pepper, Jimi Hendrix and Marilyn Monroe. I have danced to their music, studied their art and enjoyed watching them, they have shaped my own artistic journey.
However I have to acknowledge the fact that growing up and up until recently my eyes were not open to the enormous amount of creative talent the black community has to offer. I think that is partly because a black creative has had to shout a little louder and persist a little longer to be noticed, also due to the fact that black art is not really mentioned in the curriculum at school, which is such a shame.
I am going to show you my favourite black creatives and point you in the direction of some great Instagram accounts, films, artists, designers and writers. Enjoy!
On and On
I’m sure many of you can relate that when you were younger your parents payed little attention to film classifications or did extensive research as to whether there were any sex scenes or swear words. I know mine didn’t! so many of the films I watched were beyond my years and difficult to make sense of.
However there is one that sticks in my mind to this day “The Colour Purple” not only was the acting phenomenal, it was a tale that unfortunately was a reality for so many black people of the era.
I look at the rating now and I question the 12 certificate because wow some scenes were a tough watch. Yes, it makes you feel uneasy but I believe it is an important film that showcases some wonderful acting, sympathetic directing on Stephen Spielberg’s part and a time in history that will never and should never be forgotten. Originally a novel by African American novelist Alice Walker, the movie was a critical success, receiving 11 Academy Award nominations.
Another film I only recently watched was “12 years a Slave” a must see film by a hugely talented black director Steve McQueen.
Netflix: has loads of emotive and hugely informative films, dramas and documentaries directed by and starring black creatives. Well worth exploring.
I hope to watch soon:
Starring Denzel Washington “Fences” Originally a play written by African American playwright August Wilson who won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award.
How can we learn from the mistakes of the past if we erase their shameful memory.
Feels like Summer
“Conversations” (2019) by Dr Judith Kusi
Named after a widely known poem (and you call me coloured?) which stimulated critical reflection during her adolescence, Coloured People explores the artists own experiences of race. A range of mediums are used to provide an outlet for the confusion experienced by the artist in their personal and professional life.
Judith is London born, of both West African and Caribbean heritage. She grew up in East London, a hyper-diverse area in inner-city London, UK. These early experiences of ethnic and socio-economic diversity provided the basis for Judith’s curiosity, and confusion, about the way we categorise or group people. Judith began making art in 2016. At this time, she was completing her doctoral research in psychology. She used a data-analysis technique developed to interpret an individual’s experience of a given phenomenon. This research opportunity provided Judith with a framework for exploring her own psychological development; a practice she currently uses to make art.
Judith explains that this research opportunity sparked reflections on the value she was placing on her own perspective of personal and professional experiences. Each artwork crystallises the value of the artists own accounts of her own life experiences, and provides a method of communication regarding social injustices witnessed by the artist. Judith’s works are set within a British context and offer an accessible presentation of her ideas.
*Text from Judiths’ website
Below image “How do you see me?” (2018) by Dr Judith Kusi
Candice Carty-Williams’ bestselling debut novel “Queenie” hit bookshelves. It was likened by many as the “Black Bridget Jones.”
Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, poet and award-winning author known for her acclaimed 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, and her numerous poetry and essay collections.
Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is a British writer, poet, actor and Rastafarian. Equally popular with both adults and children as he also writes children’s poetry, check out “Talking Turkeys” and “Funky chickens” for the kids.
I once knew a turkey His name was Turkey
He said ‘Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in Christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?’
I said, ‘I am not too sure Turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy and waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash.
A verse from Talking Turkeys! Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah
“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith is one of her many celebrated books.The book is about 3 UK families and their cultural differences, it also reflects on Britain’s relationships with people from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
Joint winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019 “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Everaisto. A great book that follows the lives and struggles of 12 really different characters, mainly black and British women and their friends, lovers and encounters over the years.
Black owned bookshops
Sevenoaks bookshop. A Cute and independent, with a great selection of books.
Round Table Books. Round Table Books is an inclusion-led bookshop in the Brixton which specializing in underrepresented children’s books, writers and illustrators.
New Beacon Books. A Specialist book store in African and Caribbean literature.
Here are some great Instagram accounts to look at
https://www.instagram.com/diversespines/ A central hub that champions independent book stores.
https://www.instagram.com/yrsadaleyward/ Yrsa Daley Ward is a writer, model and actor. She is known for her debut book “Bone” as well as for her Poetry.
https://www.instagram.com/tamumcpherson/ Fashion, global news and lifestyle.
https://www.instagram.com/nakedclayceramics/ Minimalistic ceramic tableware handmade by Carla Sealey in Bedfordshire. Just take a look and you will see why I adore this.
https://www.instagram.com/black_brands.uk/ A great area to explore black brands and check out who you would like to follow. Put the kettle on, curl up and browse.
https://www.instagram.com/bolajihaus/ Nneka Bolaji is an interior stylist, her stunning home showcases her individual style with influences of mid-century modern and Scandinavian design. She loves DIY, upcycling and plants. Just a cheeky mention that Nneka’s headshot was taken by me!
Ben Arogundades’ book Black Beauty is brilliant, visually beautiful, perceptive and thought provoking, a real coffee table feature. It analyses the aesthetics of make-up, hair, skin-tone and facial features amongst people of colour. It features a collection of black stars of film, fashion, music, television and sports. https://www.arogundade.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/benarogundade/