Letter to my daughter

As you have learned from my previous posts on my Reclamation series, I was sent over alone from Nigeria to Kent when I was 4½. My father was a product of the African generation who were raised to romanticise England. I rarely saw my parents until I was 15 years old when my parents eventually came to live here. Correspondence home was my lifeline to a world that gradually became unfamiliar. At first the letters were read to me but then I was able to get a respect for the written word and the ceremonies surrounding it.

Letter to my Daughter I. Acrylic and mixed media on Dibond 60 x 60cm NFS…. yet.

Letter writing has been all but lost in our generation. While I am not opposed to messages of 140 characters or less, there is something deeply personal and powerful about a letter that cannot be conveyed in short bursts of communication.

I know that I am in danger of sounding terribly old, but I still enjoy getting a letter especially a handwritten letter – in the mail. You can’t ignore a letter – they impose themselves on you in way an email can’t. You can scroll past a message in a crowded inbox but something that lands on the mat or is handed to you is physically intrusive and demands attention, even if only to remove it from view, and it is a concrete reminder of a person or subject. As Tom Hanks wrote in his recent homage to typewriters; ‘no one ever chucks anything type written into the trash after just one reading. Emails? I delete most before I see the electronic signature’. Even the act of disposing of a letter takes effort and demands more engagement than pressing ‘delete’ – recycling or a more theatrical ripping or burning are visibly decisive acts, as irrevocable as they are symbolic. So letters demand engagement on every level.

Once a letter is gone it’s gone. A handwritten letter torn into fragments is not backed up on a giant server – the words of the writer are consigned to oblivion, whether this outcome is desirable or to be regretted later. Sadly, my letters suffered that fate, hence the obliteration in this series. A letter can’t be accidentally forwarded to the whole office and when it arrives it’s in a sealed envelope and unlikely to have been ‘hacked’.

Letter to my Daughter II. Acrylic and mixed media on Dibond 60 x 60cm NFS…. yet.

On the other hand, letters can, if deliberately preserved, survive long after their senders and recipients have gone. Letters we write now can form a paper trail back to their writers and intended readers, but their usefulness as windows on the past are perhaps less about the events or actions they document and more about how our forebears expressed ourselves, the language and written conventions of the time. This is in part because letters don’t lend themselves to short cuts, pro forma vocabulary and clichés as much as digital communications do – we don’t draw emojis or use text speak in letters.

Hollybush Emerging Woman Painter Prize 2022

I am thrilled and honoured to learn that I am a finalist for the Hollybush Emerging Woman Painter Prize 2022, held at Lauderdale House in Highgate London N6 5HG.  The exhibition will be held from 9th June to 4th July.

The Holly Bush Woman Painter Prize is now the largest painting prize dedicated to women painters in the UK.

This prize is aimed at supporting, encouraging and mentoring emerging women painters. Each year twenty-two artists are chosen for the final of this competition which exhibits in London. From these twenty-two talented women the first prize is awarded to a painter who has demonstrated exceptional potential to become an established professional artist. 

​The exhibition offers a genuine opportunity for emerging women artists to further their career and for art collectors to invest in the future of the art-world’s emerging talent. So what is meant by an emerging artist? It refers to an artist who has not been snapped up by a gallery, does not have an art agent and whose profile in the art market is low, to be emerging.

The organisation strives to champion women artists and try to play a part in correcting the imbalance in the art world. Did you know top London galleries exhibit more work by male artists than female and that their work sells for more than their female counterparts? Women are also under represented in the major roles in the art world and paid less. 

They are here to help change that!

The chosen finalists’s paintings can be seen here, and there is the opportunity for you to vote for your favourite(s).

For the first time in the competition’s history two works by a single artist have been selected for the final. I am delighted that both my pieces were chosen :

The Colour Purple

Reclamation Series 1

The Colour Purple

The Colour Purple

 In creating this, the last of the paintings in my trilogy on reclaiming my identity,  I realised that there is a strong influence of Peter Doig who I’ve referenced before. He says more of an outsider than anything. “People will ask me where I’m from, and I say, ‘Well, I’m from here,’ and they may be surprised. 

I’ve named this painting: “The Colour Purple” referencing Alice Walker’s novel of the same name.  Celie, the protagonist believes that once she gets self- identity, she can have the right to enjoy the purple, her most favourite/favouring colour.

Hence this piece has a complex layering of colour and landscaping which creates its own visual language. Deliberately, here is a nameless landscape in the middle of a barren land, of no specific time.  I hope to incorporate figures into landscapes as the year moves on.

Visit to Margate

Short break in Margate offered the chance to see two exhibitions:

1. Met  up with Emily Tull in the Turner Contemporary exhibition where we saw her stitched portrait of me which she completed at the beginning of Lockdown 2020. 

2.  Attended the Private view of the Carl Freedman Gallery:  “To all the Kings who have no Crowns” exhibition. The title aptly represents the seventeen self-taught and disabled artists chosen who, despite being skilled artists, are yet to receive the recognition they rightly deserve within contemporary arts. 

The gallery space is beautifully light and spacious. I met the curator, Jennifer Gilbert, who generously talked me through some selected works. Jennifer is passionate about creating awareness and gaining respect for these and many others.

This thought-provoking show is designed to challenge preconceived ideas, and to stimulate conversation and interaction. I had such an enriching time talking to several of the artists. I also had the fortune to meet the gallery Director and co-host of the celebrated podcast: TalkArt!

Lots Going On

Frantic time at the moment preparing pieces for various exhibitions:

Excited to be exhibiting at the fabulous West Horsley Place at the The Surrey Hills Christmas Fair on 26th-28th November. On sale will be a number of works including these new pieces:


“Roots are not in landscape or a country, or a people, they are inside you.” Isabel Allende
The name alone is evocative: Roots. There are so many phrases and colloquialisms that remind us of the connection we supposedly have to our roots. Never forget your roots, we are told in so many ways in so many words. My thoughts go beyond this, because as Mother Theresa said: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Roots, Acrylic and mixed media On Dibond, 60x60cm

I’m looking at ways of embodying the figurative and symbolic elements into my art as part of an ongoing narrative of my coming to terms with my identity, both in terms of heritage and self. This will remain part of an ongoing conversation with myself, others and research. What I love is the power of art to tell stories, communicate ideas, and promote understanding of the world around us.
As artists, so much informs what we do. Here, I’m sure, the ‘decorated caves’ of Lascaux were a visual resource. As you know Lascaux is famous for its Palaeolithic cave paintings found in the Dordogne region of southwestern France which we have visited a few times.

The past is in my head: the future is in my hands.

The anonymity of the androgynous figures in my painting sits well with the start of my series which will take time to develop. The older I get, the more wisdom I gain. However, I nearly overworked this by introducing a pop of complementary hot pink and tried orange. Neither were successful.

In trying to choose colours to decorate a bedroom, I’m embarrassed to admit how many “Little Greene” tester pots I used, so put them to good use here! They will feature in future work, too!

The Land that Time Forgot

I  suppose I’m missing our long distance travel destinations where you embrace the unexpected.  We travelled in South Africa and Namibia in 2008.  I tried painting this several years ago and was determined to try again. Think I’ve improved on the first attempt. Just realised that I forgot to add close-ups photos of the land.

Nothing prepares you for the expanse of the Namib desert . Sossusvlei is a blanket term for the area which includes the haunting and spectacular Deadvlei. The name Deadvlei means dead marsh (from the English dead and the Afrikaans vlei). What once was a marsh, is now a dried white clay pan, surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world that have literally rusted over thousands of years, giving them their fiery complexion. What is more eerie are the 900 year old charcoal tree skeletons (petrified acacias) trapped in a white clay marsh.
It doesn’t sound that appealing, but this vista has to be one of the most dystopian on the planet.
And all is still… very still and yet so beautiful. It is indeed the land that time forgot