Reflecting on my time at Shades of Noir

Reflecting on my time at Shades of Noir

Shades of Noir is the Voice of The Marginalised

Becoming a UAL graduate, that no longer has the safety net of education and student finance to fall back on, is a reality shock to the system that many graduates can relate to. Yet, I felt a lot more prepared than those who weren’t considering applying for an MA straight after their BA. I graduated with a First Honours Degree, was still part of Shades of Noir and eligible for the AWP internships that I am currently part of and undergoing; currently placed at the ICA and INIVA. During the interview process for both positions, I knew that having the skillsets, knowledge and confidence that I had acquired from Shades of Noir, I was able to walk into the interviews with confidence in myself and in being the right person for the role. My experience within Shades of Noir strengthened my candidacy for the positions and has lead me to the fortunate position I currently find myself in today.  I think that this isn’t highlighted or talked about enough in the interdisciplinary and intersectional work that Shades of Noir does for both their Staff, Students and Graduates.

I hadn’t really stopped to reflect on my journey post-graduation, nor had I given myself the time to. Tomorrow always seemed to come too fast. Remembering back to second year, the year I was considering dropping out of University of the Arts London all together, and perhaps pursuing another career.  One that would maybe pay the bills and make my family’s life a lot easier. This was the year I joined Shades of Noir, June 2016. The year they reminded me as to why I pursued the creative pathway to begin with and why I needed to stay.

Flicking through the images archived of all the Shades of Noir activity is quite emotional for me. Observing the pictures I listen to the images, as if they were speaking, I can hear the moments, the conversations and what stage we all were at within our collective journey’s and individual paths through Shades. I would spot myself too, my proudest moments being Decoding Masculinity at Camberwell College.  It was then that I knew that I had found my community, sisters, friends and a new family.


Like all journeys, there has been moments of joy and celebration, of growth, and moments that were incredibly tough and turbulent, which also allowed space for further growth and learning. Most growth happens on the edge of discomfort. If I were to look at my own development within Shades, I undeniably state that it has been life changing and an intrinsic part of my development that has provided me with lifelong tools and vision. A vision from which I can see a lot clearer and with a trained critical eye.

Shades has given me the confidence to identify and focus on my skills, which I can hone in on and expand to ultimately fulfil my potential. Shades of Noir provides us with a space of trust, responsibility, belief, clarity and the courage to become the best possible version of ourselves and to fulfil the potential that they are destined to fulfil. For this I am, and will forever be infinitely thankful and grateful. This is why the work, the presence and the existence of communities such as Shades of Noir are of the utmost urgency and importance for all students and staff within creative fields and academia, but particularly for those within marginalised communities.

Through my time with Shades I have been given the space to see and play an active role in my growth and that of my peers.  I feel incredibly privileged and grateful to have been given the opportunity to work for this organisation and with these individuals. I have tried to represent and be the voice of the marginalised, to be part of the change I want to see not only as a role within Shades as Content Developer, but as a duty within our current socio-political landscape and framework.  I have seen myself speaking for those who do not have access or the resources to have a ‘voice’. I hope that I have been able to fulfil this, do our valid and visible narratives justice and I expect that this will be an important part of my life ethos.

As I now move on and become a Shades graduate, I look forward to seeing the narratives and the journeys of others who will join the team and share their insights, observations and ways of viewing the world around them in relation to themselves for social justice.

A lesson that Aisha Richards (Creator of Shades of Noir) has worked meticulously hard on drumming into us all, as a team and individually, is to always remember that we are enough as we are.  Shades of Noir is more than a community, a family, a programme, the voice of the marginalised, it is a lifestyle that shapes your outlook and your being.  

I thank the whole of Phase 3 and 4 of the Shades of Noir family, those that have come and gone and those that came before me. It has been an honour and a pleasure to have worked alongside you and contribute to the Shades of Noir legacy.

I Salute You.

Words by Tiff.

Leave a Reply