Emerge & Establish – a group show for Black artists in Brixton Library

Black History Month (BHM) sees the library host an art show for Black artists. Emerge & Establish showcases the work of seven Black artists and a variety of techniques and subjects. Leslie Manasseh spoke to them about their work and about BHM.

“Have a seat” by Yasser Claud-Ennin

Inspired by his multi-cultural heritage, Yasser Claud-Ennin’s work brings together different nationalities and cultures. He seeks to challenge stereotypes and perceptions of Africa. Technically very accomplished, these works offer a glimpse into moments of intimacy.  Yasser hopes that you will approach his work “With an open mind to feel and see the softness of the emotions in the work and to see them as exciting beginnings”  

Of BHM he said “Being born and raised in Nigeria and Ghana, it is not something I was aware of until moving here. It’s for people like me to be seen, heard and celebrated”

“The world is yours peacefully” by Amie Elizabeth Wolo

Amie Elizabeth Wolo is an abstract artist who uses bold colours and shapes to evoke emotional responses “I would like the viewer to feel the energy in my work – it’s about freedom of expression and each canvas is a portal to another world. There’s life in there and I’m taking you on a journey through the colours and the strokes.”

Her views of BHM are clear and simple “It means expression and community”

“Emotional” by Michael Ocloo

Michael Ocloo (@mich_ocl_art) describes his work as figurative expressionism “I don’t show faces, but rather it’s about seeing and analysing the clothes people choose and focusing on texture and body language. It’s about considering why they wear these specific clothes – what is the occasion, how they are feeling, what is going on”

He described BHM in simple terms “It’s about famous Black people”

“Evolve” by Courtenay Kusitor

Courtenay Kusitor explained her approach to her work “I’m an abstract artist, but I want viewers to see and feel that they can connect with nature.” Her work has an interesting tension. She uses ink splashes in these pieces which give an immediacy – a moment in time feel – in contrast to the sense of repose of the image itself.

Of BHM she said “It’s about recognising ourselves as a race and the positives that we’ve brought to this country. It’s also a time also to reflect and nod to those who came before us and fought so we can have the lives we have today”

“Senzeni” by Charmaine Chanakira

Charmaine Chanakira’s work explores the relationship between the unconscious and the “tumultuous rollercoaster of our existence”.  “There is a story to my work but I want people to respond naturally in their own way. I don’t want to dictate a narrative. This particular piece is a call to action. It’s about doing something even when you feel powerless. Action is better than inaction. Senzeni means what shall we do in Ndebele” 

In her view “BHM has changed and now it’s about empowering people rather then re-living Black trauma – a celebration of Blackness, heritage and culture”

“Jazz, Fire” by Debayo Desalu

Debayo Desalu “my work is informal, colourful and people focused. It’s like a real world screen shot and I want the viewer to feel that moment. Artwork explains the things that words can’t – in this case the feeling when you’re listening to jazz music.”

His view of BHM reflects the fact that he spent most of his life in Lagos. “I didn’t grow up here. I’m Nigerian where every face is black. There is no BHM there but I felt black for the first time here – especially when I went to the country. So I can see why it’s important.”

“Tattooed Manoeuvres” by Jez Jacobs

Jez Jacob’s work (@surfacenoise_london) is sculptural and on the surface slightly cartoonish. It’s witty, but as you look more closely you discover the serious edge

“I want to be entertaining, and comedy can a good way to get to the work because I have got something to say. There’s a social narrative and I’d like it to spark a debate about the viewer’s memories and experiences”

Like his work, Jez’s view of BHM is both thoughtful and practical “It gives an insight into our culture and the things we are grappling with and it also gives me a chance to have a show!”

Emerge & Establish is free and runs until Wednesday 1 November in The Tate Library, Brixton Oval, SW2 1JQ

Opening Times

Monday 1pm – 8pm

Tuesday 10am – 8pm

Wednesday and Friday 10am – 6pm

Thursday 10am – 8pm

Saturday 9am- 5pm

Sunday 12 – 5pm