Black Blossoms highlights the voices of Black Women by hosting regular events in which Black Women are at the centre of the conversation. It also aims to provide safe spaces for women in academia.
Shades of Noir attended the Black Blossoms Exhibition 2016 Private View on the 14th of July from 6pm-9pm. This exhibition celebrated and highlighted the voices of black women, a group which is often invisible, silenced and oppressed in society. Through film, photography illustration and sound art recent UAL graduates and alumni have explored the intersections of gender, race, and identity. This exhibition challenges and deconstructs stereotypes in order to re-establish an authentic and inclusive narrative of Black Womanhood.
Black Women are speaking up.
The current exhibition is located in the UAL Showroom, at the heart of London in High Holborn and was curated by Black Blossoms founder Bee Tajudeen.
The importance of The Black Blossoms exhibition, an exhibition where Black women can occupy a space within central London and are provided with a platform to celebrate their practice, their passions and discuss their pieces amongst sisters, brothers, family, friends and industry creatives for all to see; was on it’s own an incredibly significant act, as quoted here by Aisha Richards:
‘In the context of politics, education and creative industries The Black Blossoms Exhibition is profoundly important. The exhibition gives a chance for Black Women to tell their stories and is one of the few within the UK that has our voice at its heart. Its very presence is a political act of activism’ -Aisha Richards.
Black Women are no longer invisible
The Private View played host to an array of young black aspiring artists, creatives, tutors, black women of all ages and backgrounds. Space vibrated with the sounds of conversations, greetings, laughter; these exchanges created an atmosphere of acceptance, appreciation and belonging. The gallery is a space where women of colour came together to perform, to be amongst creatives and to view work made by us, about us and for us; touching on subjects such as identity, politics, image representation, dance, heritage and Black Girls Magic.
Black Women are not afraid to shine.
Cara Browns’ ‘Picky’ pieces were placed by the entrance on the right, the piece centres on Black women’s relationship with their hair. Two large-scale paintings by Mikela Henry-Lowe, focusing on representations of black women in society and social media. Molly Ofori-Mensah’s ‘Dancer’s Philosophy’(2014) focused on the strengths and weaknesses of female hip-hop dancers.
Continuing along the right side of the gallery space we found the pieces by Portia Emily Bakers ‘A Typical Great British Family Portrait’ a series of drawings of her family, Habiba Nabisubi’s ‘Hair’ drawings honouring the endless possibilities of kinky, curly hair; Silvia Rosi’s ‘self Portrait as my Mother’ photographic portraits inspired after finding a collection of family portraits in Togo. Nicole Muskett’s ‘Empowering Women Series’ commenting on the lack of positive female representation in skateboard graphics. Yharanna Dior Joseph’s ‘Tetrahedron. Beauty, Identity and Conceal’ exploring racial insecurities and how women often feel they have to conceal their natural beauty in order to conform to what society and the media portray as ‘beautiful’.
The centre room pieces were by Shani -Louise Osei ‘Woven Womanhood’ commenting on the need to celebrate one another, despite personal differences in culture, experience, and perception. A sound piece by Melodie Holliday ‘Deptford in Sound’ a piece recorded BAME people from Deptford and their thoughts on the arts, giving them a voice.
And Taiwo Sonekan’s ‘Young and Beautiful SS16’ a textile piece commenting on how textile should be meaningful to reality and reflect on the emotions of the everyday person.
The left side of the gallery presented Samia Malik’s ‘Black Female Artists’ large-scale political piece confronting struggles of marginalised Black Women. Dionne Ward’s ‘Veiled Narrative’ site-specific sculptural piece explores the women’s morphing role in our society through fabrics and folds. Diana Burton’s ‘Always There’ plaque pieces is a reminder that black women were always (t)here.
Kudzanai – Violet Hwami’s ‘Yellow Fever’ large scale painting through which the artist hopes to communicate ideas about and envision the future of Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa. Pieces by Francesca Cozier ‘W.O.C’ highlighting how being constantly surrounded by whiteness affects young black girls, Fiona Jane Walsh’s ‘..With Thanks’ exploring ideas about identity, beliefs, society and herself. And finally Azarra Amoy with ‘Spider Women’ Black Mothers are Superheroes a piece portraying a black women with a superhero mask and her young child.
Black Women are unapologetically loving themselves.
The event also created a space to congratulate Bee Tajudeen on her hard work, labour and to celebrate all her achievements as SUARTS Education Officer (2015-2016). Bee founded Black Blossoms curated the Black Blossoms exhibition, winning the NUS Black Students Campaign Awards 2016 for the #UALsoWhite campaign and much more
As more and more people began to arrive and the gallery space began to fill to capacity, Bee took to front space to welcome everyone and to thank all the artists that participated and to all those that supported the exhibition and Black Blossoms. Bee wrote a heartfelt, personal letter directed to all the artists and to the women that had inspired her and supported her on her journey to date.
After a special thanks to her most dearest and to whom the exhibition was dedicated to, young Star; she began to read a written response to each women that exhibited a piece, one by one describing what resonated with her from each woman’s piece and why. It was truly moving, as every artist received a personal response from the curator herself.
Black Women are championing their sisters.
During the Private View, there were spoken word performances performed throughout the evening by Sarah Welsh, Dr. Deborah Gabrielle and Tiffany Webster, all performing spoken word for the first time and delivering emotional and powerful pieces; The Black Blossoms Exhibition was a platform created for them to share their words and for their voices to be heard and for them to be seen.
Graduates were seen speaking to industry creatives, and making contacts and networking, current students were meeting other BAME artists from other UAL colleges and engaging in conversations around the work, it was a truly inspiring space full of opportunity, support and for many a space for healing.
Black Women are tearing down the oppressive racist and patriarchal system which is enforced upon them.
And so, after such a success that was the Black Blossoms Exhibition Shades of Noir congratulates and salutes Bee Tajudeen for the curation of an exhibition celebrating Black Girls Magic in it’s truest form and would like to end with this powerful quote from a shades of Noir interview with a Bee Tajudeen herself found here
“Don’t be afraid to let your light shine, just do it. It is scary but there are scarier things in life, failure to me is really scary. I don’t fail at anything, even if it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. Failure happens more because I didn’t try” ~ Bee Tajudeen
Black Women are Blossoming.
Black Blossoms we salute you!
Find out more about the Black Blossoms Exhibitors. on the Black Blossoms site
Azarra Christie London College of Communication / BA (Hons) Magazine Publishing / 2012
Cara Brown London College of Communication / BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media/ 2016
Diana Burton, email Diana at firstname.lastname@example.org Chelsea College of Art / (MA) Textiles / 2016
Dionne Ward Camberwell College of Art / BA (Hons) Drawing / 2016
Fiona Walsh, email Fiona at email@example.com Wimbledon College of Art / BA (Hons) Fine Art / 2016
Francesca Cozier London College of Communication / BA (Hons) Photography / 2016
Habit Nabisubi Camberwell College of Art / BA (Hons) Illustration
Kudzanai Violet Swami Wimbledon College of Art / BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting / 2016
Melody Holliday London College of Communication/ MA Enterprise And Management For Creative Arts/ 2005
Mikela Henry-Lowe Central Saint Martins / BA (Hons) Fine Art / 2016
Molly Ofori-Mensah, email Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org London College of Communication / BA (Hons) Media & Cultural Studies / 2015
Nicole Muskett London College of Communication / BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media / 2016
Portia Baker Camberwell College of Art / BA (Hons) BA Drawing / 2016
Samia Malik Central Saint Martins / BA (Hons) Womenswear / 2005
Shani-Louise Osei, email Shani at Shanilfo@hotmail.co.uk Central Saint Martins / BA (Hons) Product Design / 2016
Silvia Rosi London College of Communication / BA (Hons) Photography/ 2016
Taiwan Sonekan London College of Fashion / FdA Fashion Photography / 2015
Yharnna Dior Joseph, email Yharnna at email@example.com London College of Communication / BA (Hons) Photography / 2015
The exhibition is open from 11 July – 2 October.
The UAL Showroom is open to the public and free to visit with no booking required. For more information and opening times please visit the UAL Showroom web page
University if The Arts London
272 High Holborn London