A chat with Ming Smith – the photographer whose work is soft, intimate & bathed in community through its documentation of the black American experience.

22.07.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Cover image: America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, NewYork Painted, 1976, by Ming Smith

Ming Smith, not necessarily a name widely known in photography, was the first Black woman to have her photographic work accepted into the Museum of Modern Art, in 1975.

The only female member of the Kamoinge Collective, and a dedicated image maker to capturing the humanity for the Black Experience, Ming Smith’s imagery and life trajectory is due a mighty relook. Currently staging an online exhibition of a selection of Smith’s work, from her image of Grace Jones as a Ballerina, to the playwright August Wilson, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery has moved the exhibition online through Vortic

We caught up with the photographer from her apartment in New York. 

How did you first get into photography?

I borrowed my mother’s camera on my first day of school in kindergarten and I took photographs of some of my school mates. The class was predominantly white, and we were about 10% of the class. I had a lot of friends and classmates that I took photographs of. 

Did you feel looking back that there was a central focus for your photographs?

It was just a natural thing. My father was a photographer. He was a hobbyist but he was really artistic: he drew, painted, did films and things like that. However he worked 12 hours a day as a pharmacist, so he didn’t do photography a lot, however I think it then became for me a natural thing to do. 

You trained to be a doctor initially, and then you decided to focus on a career in photography. 

My grandfather would always say that he wanted me to be a doctor. I liked that because he taught bible school, and my grandmother was helping all the neighbours, so I felt that being a doctor was a way of helping people. I know that might sound pretty naive but that was what I wanted to do. I did volunteer work at the children’s hospital when I was young. I saw a lot of pain around me, so I wanted to help.  Being a doctor was a way of trying to help. Then I read something about artists, and they were talking about the system and how your work could help humanity, and you work could be outside of the system, instead focusing and turning ideas into something that would be healing. 

Child Porter, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1972 by Ming Smith

There is such a sense of intimacy and connectivity about your images. How do you capture that? What do you look for in your subject matter? 

Well there are stereotypes of the Black community, but there is so much love in the community, from people who were making and doing the best spiritually or going to church. There was just this stereotype of Black people, you know, and I never saw those types of images with the love and the empathy and the humanity with the people that were around me in my community.

You have become renowned for your portraiture for Black cultural figures and icons What did you hope to profess or present in these images of these icons?

I hope that other young people or students will find inspiration in what they are teaching: the struggles and what they went through to get to where we are now. For example, August Wilson, I went to Pittsburgh and photographed his hometown and economically depressed neighbourhoods and shot some of the places he talked about in his plays. He documented the comic and the tragic aspects of the African American experience in the 20th Century. The characters in Pittsburgh were the same characters that I knew in Ohio where I grew up, or Detroit, where I was born. 

Lou Drapper’s Pick, 1973 by Ming Smith

What would you say the main challenges you have faced in your career?

I would say being taken seriously. I am a better photographer than a talker. I am quiet, and I like that with photography you can be by yourself, you don’t have to talk. Being shy, photography was a way of me being in it but out of it at the same time. If you are a quiet person it’s harder to take you seriously.

I went to a gallery seeking representation, and the gallerist didn’t hardly even look at my photographs; it was very disappointing. Just like “ok, thank you”. Just total dismissal.

Did you have a lot of other female counterparts and friends that were experiencing the same in the art industry or the creative industry?

I am sure there was, and I’m sure there is, but I have really continued to be a loner and doing photography was almost like a friend or a companion and was how I spent my time. Being a photographer was a way of expressing yourself and going through your own challenges, and needs, and so I spent my time not really talking to anyone else. 

Ethiopian Crew, 1973 by Ming Smith

What was New York like when you arrived? What were you focussing your photography on?

When I got to New York I was photographing but I came for money, and one of the first jobs I had was as a model. It was like 100 dollars an hour: an Ohio pharmacist back then was making 100 dollars a week. 

Someone told me ‘you should be a model’, and so I tried it for a bit. When I first met Grace Jones, she was an aspiring model also. 

You were part of the Kamoinge Workshop: did you feel like things changed then, that you were a part of a group of like-minded individuals?

Going to the meetings, I was first introduced to photography as an art form. Prior to this I had not committed myself to being an artist.  I didn’t think of myself as a photographer as I was still studying pre-med curriculum. So when I came to Kamoinge, I had first heard about the collective on an assignment, where a photographer was talking about whether photography was an art form. I was invited into Kamoinge by Lou Draper, who also printed for Eugene Smith. He used to tell me stories about Lorraine Hansberry, who I loved. that was when I first learned about the goal of Kamoinge: to own and interpret our own images. Roy Decarava was one of the founders of Kamoinge, which came out of the Black Arts Movement, where they started plays, and there were writers, musicians, painters, artists. That is where I learnt about lighting. I remember one member saying that his neighbourhood grew up in Harlem, and that all the young men that he grew up with were all dead. That opened my eyes to the politics. 

Oolong’s Nightmare,Save The Children (for Marvin Gaye), New York City, New York 1979 by Ming Smith

Tell us about your experience of fashion photography.

In New York I never knew about fashion photographers and advertising: it was a completely new world. I had a chance to go into both of those worlds, as I was modelling. I met people like James Moore who was a beauty photographer, or Arthur Elgort or Deborah Turberville, who I loved. She photographed my lips for a Bloomingdales bag! She did fine art photography besides that; I really liked her. I lived in the Village, so I knew Lisette Model, and I would go eat at this little dinner, the Waverley – the cheapest diner! You could buy a meal for five dollars there, and that was where Lisette Model would eat too! She would tell me stories about Diane Arbus, and she would call her Dion. For the longest time, I didn’t realise she was talking about Diane Arbus as she called her Dion!

You documented some of the greatest spokespeople of the African American experience. 

August Wilson really told our stories through his plays: the comic and the tragic of the African American experience. That is what connected me to him, to go to Pittsburgh and photograph him. Eugene Smith did a famous series on Pittsburgh, but the African American experience wasn’t documented. This is another aspect of my work. We also have Katherine Dunham. She was an anthropologist, choreographer, writer. She was an activist as well: she wouldn’t perform in places unless they de-segregated the audiences. There is always a struggle, that is extremely distressing of the black American community. They simplified the experiences of the black community in the 20th Century. Katherine went to Haiti and Africa and notarised the dance technique. When she won the Kennedy award, she talked about how hip hop came out of her technique, meaning the isolations and different notations of moves and contractions and release. Now we have dance, twerk, afro-latin, west African, Haitian, rumba, Caribbean, west African beats. We have had all these different classes come out of the diaspora. That is what Katherine Dunham did. 

Flying High, Coney Island, 1976, by Ming Smith

How do you get inspired?

I follow mainly instincts and my heart about things. I hope to say these things in my work: that is the intention. 

Would you say your photography is driven by intuition?

Definitely. Intuition, which is also very spiritual. It is like there is a spirit that speaks within me, and I go with that. I trust that more than I trust my brain. 

What changes do you see in the photography industry now? 

There is a lot more inclusion, and participation. There are different avenues for photographers – there are now young black American fashion photographers, and I think a lot of the hip hop generation are participating in that inclusion, you can go into documentaries, they work with the NYT. I think this is not only in America, but globally. 

Beauty, Coney Island, 1976 by Ming Smith

Do you think there are still many racial obstacles that need to be overcome in the art industry?

I think of course, but I am in the middle of it, and sometimes it is harder to see, but of course I think there has been many steps in the right direction. Dr Deborah Willis, she started doing books on black images, she started this in publishing and the School – she has made a life of that. I remember she came to Kamoinge to do a book. It wasn’t easy for her to receive support so I think that we have a voice now greater than before and it is growing. People are conscious of it, and they are trying to make it right, or more honest: the documentation of us, including us. Not just the stereotypes. More human.

Do you see more women photographers being showcased?

Most definitely, but I also think that there is more of an option. Before, it was a question of what could you even do with photography! Photographers and artists now, there are different avenues and you can earn a living from it! I see this more and more. Before, what could you do with it, how could you earn a living? Now, photographers both men and women are like ‘oh I could do photography, portraiture.’ 

There wasn’t any kind of show, exhibitions, talks, creating a book… there wasn’t those options. You did it out of pure love in the beginning. You did photography as an art form.

Self Portrait Nursing (Total), 1986 by Ming Smith

Do you still photograph regularly?

Yes I do! The main obstacle with that is everything is digital now. I am doing a book at the moment for Aperture, and so taking it from film to digitising it, to having to re-edit everything over again… it’s a lot! I need a lot of help with the translating of it. 

What do you hope viewers take away from your works?

I think just the personal struggles, the empathy or the humanity or the altruism or just being supportive. Maybe the humanity, and that being exposed to the people I have photographed, they will know what to do. It was like when I heard my first August Wilson play, or the drum, and I went and took my first dance class and the teacher told me he was a Katherine Dunham dancer. People will get what they get from my photography: hopefully an experience that will inspire them in some kind of way. 

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Looking Through Lockdown with Jessica Madavo

16.07.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

All images courtesy of Jessica Madava

Exploring the self during London’s lockdown, photographer Jessica Madavo took the time she found herself immersed in to turn her photography on her own form. Being granted this time to explore her own representation, Jessica shared her images captured and spoke to us about her own motivations and artistic drive.  

Tell us a little about your book you have just created

Its a book full of self portraits I took during lockdown. 

What compelled you to create this book?

I’ve been alone during lockdown, and that that meant no people around me to shoot. I then started experimenting more with different ways I could capture myself and really loved the process. I did find it strange to begin with, as I don’t see as being in front of the camera. 

How did you get into photography?

I moved from Johannesburg when I was 15 years old, five years ago and had the most amazing photography teacher Mr Wallace. He really encouraged me to spend as much time taking analogue photographs, building small light box cameras and working on the images in the darkroom and it kind of kept on going from there. 

What subjects and themes do you explore in your photography?

I’m super interested in people, and faces specifically. It’s interesting to me, how I am able to convey how that person is making me feel in an image and that’s the collaboration that keeps me going. 

What power has photography proved in the last few months for you?

Photography really has become a tool for me to look at the world, and in a sense respond visually to issues I see as important. That, and really just being able to almost have a document for each of the periods in my life. 

What photographers have you taken inspiration from?

I always find this a hard question because I have a lot of love and appreciation for a few photographers, for a lot of different reasons. Someone who jumps to mind immediately because of his dreamy use of light is Paolo Roversi, while Leo Colombo’s colour images constantly catch my eye. Other favourites are include Malick Sidibé, and probably Vivanne Sassen. 

What inspires you in a broader sense?

Since leaving South Africa, I’ve really loved relearning parts about my heritage that I pervious hadn’t really thought about. Music too is something that I truly love. 

What is on your horizon?

I’m still studying, so I’m hoping to go back to university in October, but apart from that I’m just collaborating as much as possible and keeping an open mind to my work. 

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LIMBO Magazine – A Lockdown Cultural Time Capsule

13.07.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

This week a new zine model entitled LIMBO made its debut which was created out of a lack of government support for the arts and creative industries during these difficult times. The LIMBO model , launched by publisher Nick Chapin (Frieze, Vice) is a community drive model with the aim of supporting out-of-work creative minds. The first issue edited by Francesca Gavin, Art Editor for Twin, Kaleidoscope, Dazed & NTS, with creative direction by David Lane of The Gourmand, features a myriad of almost 100 artists including Wolfgang Tillmans, Peaches, Collier Schorr, Tyler Mitchell, Brain Dead, Paul Noble , Georgina Johnson , Carol Bove, Honey Dijon among others who have contributed their art, ideas and humour born out of the global lockdown.

The zine is seen as somewhat of a time capsule , offering creative insight, hope , humour and vision during a time where everything seems so unsure. The publication is a 176 page book that recalls DIY magazines with a method of patchwork , created with expressive work with lo-fi techniques. The magazine also offers a non-traditional approach to publishing as all profits from advertising and issue sales will be distributed directly to the contributors and the staff who need it most. Some of whom have opted to waive their fees and agreed to allow their portions of the profits to be donated to those in need like Vivienne Westwood, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tyler Mitchell and others.  

The book is now available for purchase online limbomagazine.com 

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GUCCI x Bruce Gilden Beaten & Blown by the Wind

11.07.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Gucci’s latest venture is a limited edition hardcover art book shot in Rome by photographer Bruce Gilden and entitled “Beaten & Blown by The Wind”. The book features a portfolio of street portraits and imagery of the house’s pre-fall 2020 collection with faces like advocate Bethann Hardison, Singer Achille Lauro and actress/model Benedetta Barzini. 

“I have never made a book in this way before, which I viewed as a photographic challenge, and the end result is a creative collaboration with Alessandro Michele. Having Rome as the backdrop was great, the city really inspires me—the beauty of the architecture and its age and watching how the Roman people move around their unique surroundings, as well as discovering the statues in the park high above Rome that mix with beautiful clouds, and the panorama of the city below… it all lent itself for some good pictures,” explained photographer Bruce Gilden.

The images are all featured in black and white and give insight into the city of Rome and all its wonders through Gilden’s lens. It is presented in a format that takes inspiration from vintage tomes with a luxurious feel that create an interesting contrast with the earthy reality of its contents. ‘Beaten & Blown by the Wind’ is currently distributed by IDEA Books and will also be available at Gucci Garden in Florence and the Gucci Wooster Bookstore in New York.

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Meet Nuda: the independent publication from Stockholm that looks beyond the meaning of spiritual for its latest edition

30.06.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

We spoke to the co-founders Nora and Frida about the embryo for Nuda, whether artists should go to space, and looking within the self for definition. 

Tell us about the ethos behind Nuda, and how it came to be founded.

Nora Arrhenius Hagdahl: Nuda is foremost a space for us to create without interruption, a platform where you can make what you want to make because you enjoy making it. What we love to make most is books, probably because it’s a way to combine so many elements – art, design, text, ideas, photography, fashion, people and philosophy – and create a context and visual world for them. A Gesamtkunstwerk contained between cover and back. 

Frida Vega Salomonsson: The embryo for Nuda was originally founded when we were in high school. We were young, naive and wanted to spread our ideas and aesthetics with the world. Now we’re semi-young and semi-naive. We want to make books that are both thought provoking as well as nice looking. We never claim to have the answer, rather we like to ask questions and display different and sometimes opposite views on a topic. 

Your issues work on themes: how are these decided? 

N: We don’t decide on a theme, the theme decides on us. We exist in a fluxus of ideas and you just have to reach out and grab it. 


F: For this issue, Beyond, it came down to topics we’ve discussed and noticed in our own lives. I found myself at a tantra wedding and Nora had been freaking bothered by all her friends taking life advice from apps like Co-Star. When did that become a reasonable source to find direction for intellectual people?

N: It felt like people around us were searching for new spiritual and profound experiences. Sweden is a very secular and a country of sceptics, and all of a sudden everyone we knew were looking for answers in the stars, tarot cards, meditation and psychedelics. People are fascinated, need and want more to life than what reality can offer – so that became the world we wanted to explore. 

With the culling and closure of many publishing houses in light of C19, will we see a sort of Darwinistic evolution of magazines? What does its future look like to you?

F: I don’t know? Are people still stupid enough to start print publications? It’s a trap, heaps of work – small payout (but a lot of fun, at least that’s what we tell ourselves). Hopefully other people are not as naive as we are, but you have to finish what you started right? Hopefully Covid-times will at least make people more interested in reading, because what else can you do when in lockdown?

N: It’s a great time to feed your intellect and indulge in imagery, concepts, thoughts and reflection. In history, dark times prove to be very constructive for creativity and often become a time when people can explore outside of the set framework, a source of originality one can say maybe? Change can be a good ground to explore new ideas. 

F: Being on the edge on survival may serve as a profound source of inspiration? I hope so. Future looks dark from over here, but even more reason to continue. Fingers crossed.

Nuda is based in Stockholm: has this influenced the magazine at all?

N: Have you ever been in Stockholm? It’s clean and in winter it’s quiet and dark as fuck – maybe that has influenced our aesthetic.

F: Stockholm is also a very small city, there isn’t one isolated fashion scene, one isolated art scene and one isolated design scene. All these scenes are merged together and influence each other, perhaps more than in most cities, because it’s a necessity. That’s an approach we have for the magazine as well. Mixing ideas and people from various fields. 

N: Rather than only looking at what’s around us and picking up inspiration from what we see, for this issue at least, we wanted to look at what’s within us, look at what we can’t see but feel. Aiming to touch on those experiences that are of a more universal character.

What can we expect from your third issue, Beyond, that has just been released?

F: Beyond is a guided journey through the immaterial aspects of life. We humans, and all species, have very limited ways to experience the world, we have to rely on our senses, our eyes, our nose. But there is so much out there that we can’t see or register with our senses. What if all humans were born with eyes that would only allow x-ray vision, that would dramatically affect our conception of the world around us.

N: In the book Marina Abramović tells us about her belief in parallel realities and Michael Pollan argues for the benefits of psychedelics. The astronaut Christer Fuglesang speaks about whether we should have artists in space and Jemima Kirke says the only spirituality that exists is love. Jeremy Shaw speaks about the multiple views of transcendence, Roy Andersson don’t believe in a life after this. Johnny Johansson says that god, for all he knows, could be a rabbit. The artist Cecilia Edefalk holds a séance to make contact with Hilma af Klint and the famous spoon bender Uri Geller speaks about his encounters with extra-terrestrials – it’s a march of different perspectives on the immaterial and the world beyond! 

What can we expect from Nuda in the future?

F: Don’t expect so much from us. To quote the legend Stephen Hawking: “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

N: Or as Sylvia Plath says: “If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”

F: Perhaps Bruce Lee said it best, “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

Follow nuda on: @nudapaper

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“My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness” – The Project / Fundraiser highlighting the beauty of Black Queerness

24.06.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Cover image: Black Dolls by Campbell Addy & William Ndatira

“My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness” is an ongoing digital initiative launched by Twin’s online editor Jordan Anderson as a celebration and exploration of black queer identity. “It is a protest , a celebration that frames blackness as a polyphony, a genre or melody with a vast variety of notes & textures, denouncing both white queer racism and black queer antagonism by way art , film and literature.” The initative launched yesterday is an initiative that holds 3 aspects, the primary being a limited edition  print sale / fundraiser featuring the works of 12 photographers Tim Walker, Campbell Addy, Michael Bailey Gates, Sackitey Tesa, Hao Zeng, Daniel Obasi, Florian Joahn, Kennedi Carter, David Uzochukwu, Emmanuel Sanchez-Monsalve, Justin French & Myles Loftin who have given their interpretations of black queer identity through imagery — 100% of proceeds of which will be split between two charities centred around Black Trans Lives. The second aspect of the is a weekly updated journal, shot by photographer Damien Frost, who documents and trans / non binary people of colour from all around the world as the site provides a virtual space for them to exist and be celebrated in all their glory.

The latter aspect of the project , is a weekly film screening of filmmaker the late Marlon Riggs’ films who document the history of the Black Queer Identity within American society. The project will run for three weeks and will carry weekly updates and reminders on the MQBMBQ instagram . To discover more information, visit MQBMBQ.COM  

Gully Queens by Tim Walker

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The Earth Issue’s Freedom Fundraiser – Round 2

09.06.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Cover image : Lauren Mary Fan Gerstel – Bus Driver, 2017

Last week The Earth Issue — a collective of artists and creative professionals working at the convergence of fine art and environmentalism — launched the first instalment of their Freedom Fundraiser. The initiative entails a print sale put together to raise funds for bail contributions and to support organisations fighting for social justice in response to recent events in America regarding the murder of George Floyd and the great movement which has followed. The Earth Issue has taken this opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by donating to the cause. The first wave from last week featured the work of over 80 artists and photographers from around the world , and has managed to raise over £70,000 in 3 days  100% of which will be donated. 

Markn , Joseph Siblings, 2020

“I was feeling really upset about what was going on and just feeling kind of helpless as a white person , so I wanted to make sure that I contribute, so I decided to start this print fundraiser and initially reached out to all of my contacts to try and see if I could get anyone to donate, and in a few hours we thankfully managed to put together over 90 artists. My entire team, which is a collective of people from different origins and backgrounds came together  and pulled on their respective resources and got it done in about 20 hours , which I’m really grateful for, ”explained Elena Cremona, The Earth Issue Founder,  Creative Director & Print Media Coordinator 

The collective now gears up for their second wave of the initiative to be launched tomorrow morning, where another round of limited edition prints will be put on sale including artists and photographers such as Chieska Fortune Smith, Johanna Tagada-Hofbeck , Edwin Antonio, Olivia Rose, Harley Weir,  Justin Tyler Close among many others. A 100% of the proceeds after printing and shipping raised  from this wave will be split amongst the organisations on Bail Funds: George Floyd and the 4Front Project. 

“ We want to thank the artists who donated their work to this initiative , and of course everyone who contributed by purchasing prints. We are overwhelmed by your quick and generous response — the power of the global and creative community to rally together and support community struggle in a time of need has been truly heartening.” 

To keep up with the launch of the The Earth Issue Freedom Fundraiser’s second wave , visit TheEarthIssueFreedomFundraiser.com

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SAINT LAURENT RIVE DROITE : ‘NOSES ELBOWS AND KNEES’ by Mario Sorrenti & John Baldessari

21.05.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Saint Laurent Rive Droite recently announced that it has exclusively launched the prestigious phonebook by Mario Sorrenti and John Baldessari “Noses Elbows and Knees.” Curated by Neville Wakefield, the book was originally published at the end of the “Noses Elbows and Knees” exhibition in 2017 ,  and explores the work of Baldessari’s signature paintings of body parts on photographs , giving a nod towards Hollywood culture with elements of bold colour, while Sorrenti’s work on the book was a reinterpretation of 90’s beauty photographs .

Together the duo question the notion of familiar representations through codes of nudity in society , fashion, collage and photography. Each copy of the book is signed by both artists and are currently available for pre-order in Saint Laurent Rive Droite’s Paris and LA stores.

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A refreshing energy of inclusion: Marguerite – the female-focussed network for women to build likeminded connections in the arts – talks to Twin about their 5th year as a very modern arts organization.

15.05.2020 | Blog , Culture | BY:

Cover image by Dunja Opalka

Marguerite was founded in Joanna Payne’s living room after a few glasses of the bubbly stuff. Hey, who hasn’t concocted their million dollar idea on the sofa, or a brilliantly innovative concept with mates in the pub. For Joanna however – Marguerite came to be a living, breathing, invigorating association for women in the arts to come together, and share their thoughts/views/frustrations/hopes with other women that might feel the same. 

After the adage of the ‘members club’ gratefully comes to wear off – the notions of exclusivity wearing thin in a world that has never felt more isolated and alone – Joanna is shifting the dynamics and the dusty insinuations members clubs have come to imply, and has built a community across the globe that looks to if not inspire at least articulate a  universe where women can feel the confidence to advance their own interests, passions and careers.

Here we talk to Joanna about starting her own business, the importance of sharing experiences, and the art of slowing down.

David Seymour, Venice. Peggy Guggenheim in her palace on the Grand Canal, 1950

What made you want to start Marguerite?


After seven years of working in the art world, for organisations including Whitechapel Gallery and Frieze Art Fair, I wanted to do something about the fact that women often found it harder to realise their potential than men. By that, I mean that I so often found that my female colleagues and friends found it much harder to do things like ask for a pay rise than their male counterparts. Whilst there are many reasons for the pay gap in the UK, one of them is women’s confidence in comparison to men’s. If men are happy to ask for a pay rise whereas a woman isn’t, guess who’s more likely to get it?

I was very lucky in that I landed my dream job at the age of 23, working in the VIP department at Frieze Art Fair, where I was meeting collectors, artists, gallerists, museum curators.. even Jay Z and Beyonce! I found that having such a strong network in the industry really helped me in my career and I was made to feel pretty confident as a result. I wanted to share that network with my friends and peers in the hope that it would do the same for them – so in February 2015, set Marguerite up as very casual drinks in my living room. It didn’t have a name back then and the initial idea was for a different woman to host a similar sort of thing in their own home every other month. The idea was simple: to bring women in the arts together to meet, share ideas and in turn, build their careers in the industry.

Has the original purpose changed at all over the years?

The concept of Marguerite changed pretty quickly after that first event in my home. After a friend had to pull out of hosting the second event, I decided that it would be better to instead ask artists, curators, photographers and designers whether they would in fact play host to our events. This was very much drawing on my experience from Frieze and later Photo London, where I was organising special events in artist studios and collectors’ homes for some of the best known collectors, museum directors and curators in the world. From that experience, I was taught the importance of having ‘content’ at events in the form of a talk, panel discussion, workshop or some other form of entertainment. I really wanted to step away from your awful average networking event where a bunch of people are just chucked into the same room with a name badge and a glass of wine and expected to find things in common.

Our core values are still very much the same: to advance the careers of women in the arts by providing a ready-made professional network and spaces in which to hear from some of the most influential people working in the creative industries today. The caliber of our hosts has always been pretty high (two of our first events were hosted by the world renowned fashion photographer, Rankin and winners of the Turner Prize 2015, architecture collective, Assemble) but we’ve built on that hugely and have welcomed some incredible speakers including the likes of fashion designers such as: Dame Zandra Rhodes, Roksanda and Alice Temperley MBE; photographers: Miles Aldridge, Nick Knight & Juno Calypso; artists: Idris Khan OBE, Gavin Turk and Michael Craig-Martin; and museum directors: Maria Balshaw (Tate), Dr Tristram Hunt (V&A) and Tim Marlow (then the Royal Academy of Arts, now The Design Museum). 

Despite the hosts and the quality of our events (hosted everywhere from London and Somerset to Venice to New York) growing ever more magnificent, we’ve worked hard to ensure that the original energy of friends meeting over a couple of glasses of prosecco in my living room remains.

Idris Khan & Annie Morris for Marguerite by Dunja Opalko

You have turned 5 years old which is amazing: how has our definition of members clubs changed in that time?

Thank you! Whilst the concept of ‘private members’ clubs’ seemed very glam when we first started out, we now actually steer away from the term as we don’t want the network to seem too exclusive or off-limits to anyone who works in the arts. Anyone in the industry can buy a ticket to our events if they’re interested in one particular topic or want to ‘try before they buy’ a full membership. 

Unlike many private members’ clubs which operate in the way they do so that they can be strict about who they do and don’t let in, the reason we offer membership is to encourage the same group of people can come together six or more times a year. The frequency means you’re much more likely to actually make friends at our events than if you just attended a standalone talk. Marguerite’s aim is to foster friendships as opposed to make people feel left out because they’re not included.

Linder Sterling & Charlie Porter for Marguerite by Luke Fullalove

Why did you choose to build a female only members club?

I think that incredible things happen when women come together. I wanted to provide a space in which women would be made to feel more confident which would hopefully go on to have an impact in their careers and most importantly, their lives. Judging by our talks in comparison to many others I’ve been to, I’m always struck by how many questions from the audience there are at the end. I think women feel a lot more confident in the company of other women which means they get more out of the situation. Furthermore, if there’s one thing the #MeToo movement taught us, it’s that there’s a lot to be learnt from women sharing their experiences with one another. 

I should say that Marguerite is female and non binary-focussed. If a man wanted to come to one of our regular events, he would be very welcome and we host some events that are open to all. We hosted one of these with Lean In just before lockdown began on how people feel in the workplace post #MeToo – a discussion that would have been a pointless echo chamber if it was just had by a group of women!

Marguerite members at their Polly Morgan studio visit by Luke Fullalove

You have aligned your online presence to support the creative industries: tell us a little bit about this

The week before the official lockdown began, we began to see many members of our community (especially freelancers) lose their jobs. We therefore instantly shifted our attention to launch a forum where freelancers could meet potential employers. It was way more successful than we could ever had imagined and we paired our first freelancer with a paid job in under 24 hours. The following week we also launched a forum to support small businesses – where independent brands could present their products and anyone who was in the position to shop could find them! In the absence of our usual events, we wanted to pivot quickly to best suit the new needs of our community. 

We’ve also been hosting online talks and workshops on our Instagram Live focussing on the things people are most worried about right now including money, managing anxiety and parenting kids and teenagers when you’re trying to hold down your other full time job! We’re now running ‘Marguerite Creates’ every Saturday and Sunday morning where creatives are showing us how to do things like: draw our house plants; collage; make simple home improvements; and take better photographs on our phones! We wanted to provide quick, fun activities to allow people to try something new to alleviate the lockdown boredom – and maybe even get that “Oh my god! I did it!” feeling I think we all need a bit of right now!

Unlike our usual events, these new online features are all quite ‘rough and ready’. We felt it was important to act quickly to give people what they needed rather than spending lots of time (and money!) producing something really sleek that may become redundant by the time it was ready. People’s requirements and moods are changing every day at the moment and we’re very mindful of being relevant. It’s actually also been a brilliant time to test out new things and throw us out of our comfort zone! 

Marguerite Presents Snappy Salons on Women in the Arts part of the February 2017 Uniqlo Tate Lates at Tate Modern Image by Dunja Opalko

What has C19 taught you?

Professionally, the joy of slowing down. We’ve hosted 40 events a year for the past few years which is a lot and can mean up to three events taking place in one week. I think once this is all over, we’ll consider hosting fewer events but maximising the quality.

What will the most important lessons be for the creative industry post C19 do you think?

Much like many industries, I think coronavirus will force the creative industries to slow down. The hectic merry-go-round of private views, art fairs, fashion weeks and events was tiring for everyone involved and I think ultimately, unsustainable. Furthermore, the shipping and travel required for the larger international events of course had huge environmental implications. It’s been interesting to see how quickly art fairs and galleries have shifted to host their events online – I hope a lot of this will remain in place once this is all over. 

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“Inside Helmut Newton 100″ – A Digital Initiative

07.05.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Helmut Newton is known by many as one the most dexterous photographers of the 20th century. His notorious black and white work pushed the boundaries for fashion and fine-art photography, as he was one of the pioneers to explore themes such as sexuality and femininity within fashion.  The Newlands House Gallery was recently opened which is a space located in Petworth dedicated to contemporary art, photography and design. 

The space’s inaugural exhibition titled HELMUT NEWTON 100, which debuted in March was temporarily closed as a result of the current health crisis, but in response the gallery has introduced “Inside Helmut Newton 100.”

Curated by the gallery’s artistic director, auctioneer, art dealer and DJ Simon De Pury, the digital exhibition features a virtual tour of the exhibition which can be viewed via instagram and facebook as he takes the audience through the collection of iconic portraits, landscapes and fashion images, as well as glimpses of some never before seen artwork from the photographer.  The virtual initiative will also feature a section titled “friends of Helmut” which will engage some of the photographer’s friends such as Mary McCartney & Juergen Teller in discussion . Keep up with gallery’s digital endeavours by following Newlands.House.Gallery.

Jenny Capitain, Pension Dorian, Berlin, 1977’ by Helmut Newton
Neewlands House Gallery by Elizabeth Zeschin
Neewlands House Gallery by Elizabeth Zeschin

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Imagining the Self by Adaeze Ihebom

30.04.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

London based, Italian-Nigerian photographer Adaeze Ihebom makes intimate self-portraits, turning the camera on herself to explore her identity, the lives of Igbo women and the power of the gaze. In her ongoing body of work Imagining the Self, Ihebom uses the camera to explore her duality as an Igbo and Italian woman. Creating a project on the self brings the viewer into intimate and private moments.  But, by being in control of the camera, Ihebom’s project is ultimately an act of empowerment as she retains control of her own narrative and the gaze. 

The title of the project, Imagining the Self, alludes to an element of performance. For Ihebom, these photographs are a mix of performance and reality. Through exploring her identity as an Igbo-Italian woman living and working in London, she is staging a conversation with herself. The series was created in response to an identity crisis that she experienced during her teens — when Ihebom had refused to let people take her photograph. ‘I had low self- esteem’, she recalls, ‘and, as a result, I have no pictures of my adolescence. Photography has helped me overcome that and portraying myself makes me feel empowered.’ She recreates some of these lost moments in the project and through this act, regains control over these periods of uncertainty. We see Ihebom in a number of intimate and private scenes. In one image, she is in the bath, looking directly at the camera. She is holding our gaze, as if she isn’t afraid to be seen in this way. In another, she is in her underwear looking in the mirror, a private moment we can all resonate with.  We also see her lying on a bed with the light streaming through the window. Was someone originally there with her to share this moment she is recreating?

Images of women are often subjected to the male gaze. By taking self-portraits, Ihebom is in total control of her image and can capture herself in authenticity. When it comes to others taking her photograph, she is aware that she ‘is losing that control’ which makes her uncomfortable: ’weirdly I am more at ease with photographers that I know or love because in a way I can sense that they can capture my true essence.’   

The process of making the image is as important to Ihebom as the final outcome. This is particularly visible in her project Igbo Woman in which she performs different fictional characters inspired by China Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. In this series of self-portraits, she ‘traces the evolution of family identity from pre-colonial, through colonial and post-colonial times.’ Her clothing and pose are particularly important as each character represents women from different time periods. We see Ihebom dressed as Ezinma Okwonkwo who was born in 1900. Here, she is wearing a white head wrap, beads around her neck and stands bare footed, looking directly at the camera. In another, she is dressed as Reverand Sister Mary Uzoamaka Okwonkwo from 1930. She is wearing religious dress, looking down at the prayer beads in her hands. We then move through time to see Ihebom as women from 1950, 1960 and 1967. By the time we get to 1972, we see her as Alexandra Daberechi Okonkwo. Here, Ihebom is sitting on a high stool, sitting casually, her hair in an afro, wearing sunglasses and platform shoes. We move through 1981 and finally finish on Ihebom as Claudia Onyeka Okonkwo in 2015. Here she is wearing an off-the-shoulder dress and heels, holding a book and looking directly at us.  In this final image, she is representing the modern Igbo woman, giving them a voice and their own identity. 

‘I knew there was a need to represent them as there is an enormous lack of visual illustration and narrative. I feel that history has not portrayed the Igbo woman in her rightful perspective. She is customarily shown in images that correspond to a supposed African man’s world and the idea of feminine submissiveness to the man. The series is a way to challenge this mistaken notion and to show how colonialism has further removed feminine freedom from the Igbo woman. I want the spectators to question if these ideas have always been there or colonialism has planted that idea into us.’

Ihebom originally planned to shoot different women but realised that by using herself and becoming both the photographer and model, she could connect more closely with the characters.  Ihebom describes the image-making process as ‘really fun’ – she listened to music, danced and created a positive atmosphere. She meticulously planned each image, creating storyboards of each character she portrayed. When it came to actually taking the image, she removed herself from the world, turned off her phone and imagined herself in the lives of each individual. Through this perfectly staged act of self-portraiture, she reimagines the characters as real women, tracing them through time to give them their own story. Through turning the camera on herself, Ihebom brings us into her world, while also creating visibility for Igbo women who have historically been misrepresented and left out of the visual narrative. 

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The global drag community in quarantine captured by Damien Frost

28.04.2020 | Beauty , Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

Cover image: Left: Luke Harris, Right: Sakeema Peng Crook

Damien Frost is a London-based Australian-British art director / graphic designer who spends his time during the day working in the theatres of The Big Smoke and immerses himself to document the city’s alternative queer life by night. His latest project is an ode to social distancing as he uses his opportunity in isolation to portrait creative compositions featuring some of the world’s most dynamic drag queens. 

 “I began the Social distancing project when we first went into lockdown in March as I quickly realised i was going to miss capturing the ephemeral art of the people I normally document and not only did I want to find an excuse to keep using my camera but I also needed to focus on something to distract me a little from the unfolding drama and try and document it in some safe way.

Julius Reuben @luisbenlon

Around the same time that I began the project many people who work in the nightlife economy had their livelihoods and cash flow immediately cut off – there were parties due to happen that people were depending on to pay their rent and some of these people began to pivot towards creating online social content – doing smaller scale performances form their bedrooms or party organisers moved the parties to be Facebook live feeds where the do’s would still play and people would tune in, dance around their lounge rooms and still talk shit over drinks (or warm tea even) and collectively solve the worlds problems albeit via text chat rather than the smoking area of a club, and so I’ve been capturing people before they do a show or after they do a performance or makeup tutorial video and present these portraits in The Social Distancing project,” Frost commented.  

Chloe Doherty , @chlodoh

Each portrait from the series carefully captures each queen’s individual character in the comfort of their homes as they transform themselves for their respective performances which creates a raw outlook / performance out of the concept of social distancing in itself. 

“I find the term Social Distancing fascinating for it’s inherent oxymoron being social and distant at the same time and so this project is exploring that, how we are connecting with each other during this strange moment in time. I wanted to show the process also- the image quality of the photos is mostly terrible as it’s very dependent on both the video call connection, the camera the other person is using on the other end and the lighting they have available and then I’m just taking photos with my camera of a pixelated video feed on an old iPad but this poor quality is also partly the point – the technology we have is imperfect and nothing can replace the personal social experience but at the moment this is all we have and so we make-do.

At first I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of people doing transformative looks during this period but I’ve been surprised by just how many people are still practicing their craft – using this time to play with new ideas, engage with challenges with other artists and just keep ploughing on. Despite the fact that many people are in extremely precarious and difficult circumstances and often not knowing where they will get the money for the next rent payment people are trying to keep positive in the knowledge that we are all in this together and there’s a strong desire amongst everyone I talk to that hopefully we can all learn from this situation and we might come out of this situation more thoughtful about each other and the delicate balance of the world we live in.

Keep up with the artist and view the full version of the artists featured @damienfrost.

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The Teachings Of Ikebana And Their Life Lessons From Big Love Records Co-Founder Haruka Hirata

27.04.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

A cult record store and the Japanese art of flower arranging might not make natural bedfellows, but there is plenty to connect the two skills and passions for Haruka Hirata, the co-founder Big Love Records – the ‘if you know, you know’ globally respected record store in Tokyo. Speaking to Twin about what this ancient practice has taught her about life, her musings could act as a reflective signal to how we will need to responsibly think about a future we are carving as we all move forward. 

How did Big Love Records come about?

Masashi Naka, co-founder of Big Love Records started his record label in the 90’s, and opened his own record shop called Escalator Records in 2002 in the same location as now. I started working there and changed the name to Big Love Records in 2008. It was to focus more on international bands. That organically made us meet great artists, not only musicians.

What is the ethos of BLR?

To be independent. Be responsible to the world. 

Do you think our approach to records and independent music stores will change post COVID-19?

I believe a lot of people has revisited listing to music during their self-isolation, and dug deeper, so it definitely was a good chance to realize how music could be your nutrition. But at the same time, some people may notice it was because you had enough time to do so. Record shops should not just rely on the customers, but needs to create a better platform for people to fully enjoy and experience music and embrace in their lives.  

It’s about experience. A community is an experience.


You practice Ikebana: tell us how you got into this and what it has taught you?

Hiroshi Teshigahara, son of the Sogetsu Ikebana School founder and the second Iemoto (grand master), was an avant-garde movie director. I was a big fan of his movies- “Woman in the Dunes”, and “The Face of Another”. One night I was casually googling his name and found out he was an Ikebana artist. I was looking for a medium to address my voice in a better way, and the next day I called my Ikebana school. Been studying for four years, I finally got a certificate last year.

It has been teaching me a lot.

The importance of preparation and cleaning up. Showing respect to your teachers, and classmates. Patience. Never compromise but forgive yourself.

You can never complete learning an art form working with nature, because you will never be able to use the same material ever again. 

Can you give us a few pointers on what makes a balanced arrangement, and how can an arrangement effectively come alive?

Focus on three things. Line, color and mass. How do you feel today? Pick one main color. Use three strait or curved materials, in three different lengths. 

Create a mass, or keep it 

Give space to each other. Don’t fully cover the vase, create a room. 

You can keep the flowers or branches live longer if you cut the stems under the water. This is to prevent air coming in the stem, and let it absorb water.

What sensations does ikebana give you? Calm, satisfaction, energy?

Ikebana is about life and death. You need to face how selfish you are to cut, bend, or nail the flowers or branches only to express yourself. You are sacrificing nature. 

Do you listen to music while practicing ikebana?

One time I was listening to dark techno while working on the piece, and it was not right.

The sound of the scissors are the best music. 

You should always listen to silence and find your own rhythm.


What does beauty mean to you?

Life and death.


What was the last thing that made you excited?

Eating french fries with my friends.  

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Musée des Arts Décoratifs : “Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams” Virtual Tour

23.04.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

French Maison Christian Dior recently launched a virtual tour to their latest exhibition’s in partnership with Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Titled “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” this exhibition traces the impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers while exploring the works of the six artistic directors who succeeded him.

“There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking,” a quote from Christian Dior. The designer deeply admired the British  way of life, even his first fashion show took place at London’s Savoy Hotel and he then later established the brand as Christian Dior London. 

The exhibition also gives insight to Dior’s creative collaborations with jewellers, shoemakers, and glove makers as well as a focus on some of his earliest elite clients. These include author Nancy Mitford, dancer Margot Fonteyn and a special highlight of the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday. The exhibition will presents over 500 objects and over 200 rare Haute Couture garments displayed alongside the designer’s personal possessions. The virtual show reveals the sources of inspiration which help define the Dior aesthetic, from the intricate designs of Yves Saint Laurent to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision. Discover the link to the virtual showcase below.

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Artist Paul Mpagi Sepuya debuts new work

08.04.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

New York based photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya has recently published a body of working featuring the work a prominent up and coming NY based photographer. The artist is known for shooting studio photographs of friends, artists, collaborators and himself, exploring upon traditional portraiture through different manners by way of collage, layering, fragmentations, mirror imagery and the perspective of a Black queer gaze. In this series , the artist gives glimpses of the imperfect human elements of picture taking, including fingerprints, smudges and dust. 

“A reflection in a mirror is a perfect, depthless form, never as complex or shifting as the real body staring back at it. Sepuya chops up these reflections for us, refusing us neat or cohesive views. In his work, the mirror’s imperfection enables us to see the imperfections within ourselves, further refracted by our relationships with others.” – Evan Moffitt . 

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100 PHOTOGRAPHERS FOR BERGAMO Initiative

02.04.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Cover Image by Mario Sorrenti

In the last few days many have been lending support to the Italian health system, which has been recently severely threatened by the Coronavirus outbreak.

A group of local photographers have also joined the efforts with the creation of an initiative in favour of the intensive care unit of the Papa Giovanni XXII Hospital of Bergamo,  which at the moment is one of the most affected hospitals.

The project was born following a testimony of one the hospital’s doctors, who told the fundraiser’s organizers about an extremely dramatic situation for which all possible help is seriously needed.

Rome, Italy by Alec Soth

100 PHOTOGRAPHERS FOR BERGAMO is a call to some of the most influential voices in the world of Italian fashion, art, architecture and portrait photography, an invitation to donate their images, which can be purchased at a cost of 100 EUR on https://perimetro.eu/100fotografiperbergamo 

The operation, coordinated by the community magazine Perimetro and the non-profit organization Liveinslums, initially involved some of the most important names in the contemporary Italian photography scene, who have generously intervened and immediately accepted the appeal of doctors and healthcare workers, battling on the frontline of the COVID-19 emergency.

Among these photographers are: Davide Monteleone, Alex Majoli, Oliviero Toscani, Michelangelo Di Battista, Toni Thorimbert, Giampaolo Sgura, Maurizio Galimberti.

The 100 photographers for Bergamo has already collected 350,000 euros in 5 days and today thanks to the help of the international network Linke Lab, other important international photographers will join the ranks, including Alec Soth, Susan Meiselas, Adam Bromberg, Ed Kashi, Christopher Morris, Ami Vitale, Pep Bonet, Michael Ackerman.

The funds will be entirely donated to the hospital to support the intensive care unit in the purchase of specialized technical equipment.

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To Survive On This Shore – A Compelling Visual Documentary of the Older Trans Community

13.03.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

All images are Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Cover Image: Hank, 76, and Samm, 67, North Little Rock, AR, 2015

Over the past five years photographer Jess T Dugan and social worker & professor Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States in documentation of the stories and imagery of transgender and gender nonconforming older adults in the country. Traveling from coast to coast , the duo sought out subjects whose experiences of life exist in the intersections of gender identity, age , race , ethnicity , sexuality, socioeconomic background &  geographic location. The result of their venture, a moving body of work giving voice & visibility to an underrepresented group of older individuals with a wide variety of narratives spanning throughout the last ninety years, offering a historical record of transgender experiences & activism in the USA in the form of a book and several exhibitions. 

“So many trans-related stories in the media are about people being murdered orare about discrimination of some kind. With this project, I wanted to create representations of many different ways of living and aging as a trans person. I also wanted to record the history of people who, in many cases, paved the road for the world we live in now. I worried their stories were at risk of being lost or forgotten, and I wanted to record and preserve them,” explained Jess T. Dungan.

“For me, part of the inspiration for this project also came from thinking about the limits of knowledge dissemination in the social sciences, especially in terms of our ability to engage in broader cultural forces and public discourse. I saw the potential to make an impact beyond academia by creating this project together, ” added professor Fabbre.

Each story, each image captured and included in the photo series, shines a brighter light on stories that have been long overlooked, and in many ways creates blooms of hope and validation for onlooking generations of trans individuals.

Dee Dee Ngozi, 55, Atlanta, GA, 2016

“This coming into my real, real fullness of knowing why I was different is because I was expressing my spirit to this world. And I didn’t know how God felt about it, but I believe in God and I have a deep spiritual background and I talk with the Holy Spirit constantly who’s taken me from the Lower West Side doing sex work to being at the White House.” – Dee Dee Ngozi .

Sky, 64, and Mike, 55, Palm Springs, CA, 2017

One of the hardest things in terms of transitioning was the difference in personal space. When I was perceived as female, there wasn’t a lot of touching. Women don’t get into each other’s space. When two women are attracted to each other they don’t immediately put their hands on the other woman’s body. It’s not considered appropriate. Whereas the way men cruise, there’s about two seconds of eye contact, and then an approach, and either hands on your chest or hands in your crotch or some other type of immediate physical contact.I started out with a lot of insecurity in terms of my body, insecure about myself, and it has taken time to build confidence.” – Mike

Duchess Milan, 69, Los Angeles, CA, 2017

“I just know I’m me. I don’t think in terms of names and forms and all that. It doesn’t matter.I’m just myself and that’s who I am.I am at peace with myself. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world because you’re never in a hurry to get somewhere, you know, to prove to anyone that you’re who you know you are. I know who I am, and what other people think about me is none of my business. So that’s who I am. I identify as the Duchess.

I knew that I might lose family, that people might reject me. But I weighed that, and I thought,“If I lose everything and everybody, but I keep me, that’s all that matters. That’s all that matters, because I’m not going to live a life that I’m not happy in, for other people.Why?It doesn’t make any sense.”So I put my money down and took my chances. My family accepted me. They came to accept me, and I’ve had kids around me, I’ve gone to all the weddings, all the funerals, and it’s a situation that everybody just thinks of me as who I am. It’s not even an issue anymore. “Oh, you mean her? Oh, that’s just Auntie.” – Duchess Milan

David, 63, Hull, MA, 2015

“When I was five years old,I found my older brother’s first communion suit. It was a very cool looking suit, white and double-breasted, and it fit me perfectly. I wouldn’t take it off.I wore it everyday. Day in and day out, until my parents got so tired of seeing it on me, they turned it into a Halloween costume as a way to get rid of it.When I was older,I played in this little rock band and one time whenI was over at my friend’s house I heard his mother mention a story about a person named Christine Jorgenson who had “changed sex.”I couldn’t keep my mind on practice after that!I wanted to find out more about this person, but you couldn’t Google it, of course, and so it took me months to find it. I was finally able to piece together that this was a person who knew their gender and went somewhere and there were people who could help.” – David

SueZie, 51, and Cheryl, 55, Valrico, FL, 2015

When we got married, I never imagined that someday my husband would become my wife,” Cheryle said. “Right from the start, SueZie confided that she identified as female on the inside, but transition never appeared to be an option. But, I never had a problem with her wearing lingerie. You know, it’s just clothes. I fell in love with the person inside, and what’s on the outside is more about what they feel comfortable with.”

For more information on the ongoing exhibition and book purchases visit To Survive on This Shore.

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Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago – Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago

12.03.2020 | Art , Blog | BY:

Recently the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) opened it’s doors to its latest exhibition entitled Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago. Curated by internationally acclaimed Nigerian-British designer Duro Olowu known for his womenswear label, the exhibition is a recollection of the public and private art pieces of Chicago which are anchored by the MCA’s art collection.

The exhibition is a conversation, a map between artists, media and geography which using a combination of paintings, sculptures, photographs and films in layered textured scenes to incorporate fashion. On the ocassion, Olowu engaged with numerous institutional and private collections in Chicago and selected artworks that reflect mutual ways of seeing, selecting, and acquiring across the city, which he curated  in manner to reveal unexpected connections, patters and common interests in  ‘salon-style,’ using vertical wall space and playful combinations to place works in surprising conversations with one another. Olowu has organized the show to prioritize aesthetics and the visual experience of the visitor, with wall colours including saturated shades of orange, purple, and teal – inspired by the exhibition. 

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago is currently underway at the MCA and will run until May 10th.

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Signature African Art: The Way We Were by Oluwole Omofemi

29.02.2020 | Art , Beauty , Blog , Culture | BY:

Cover image : Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Omonalisa II’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

Mayfair based art gallery Signature African Art is set to open it’s new space with an exhibition by Nigerian artist Oluwole Omofemi entitled The Way We Were . In the words of the artist herself , the exhibition will be a celebration of Afrocentric pride and a reflection on the post colonial era. Throughout the exhibition Omofemi explores the importance of black hair in the black community as a call for people to assert their own identity through their own stories and shedding traces and definitions of identity left from colonialism.  

The artist also references more recent times regarding The Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the natural hair movement that came with it, made popular by icons such as Diana Ross , Jimi Hendrix and Angela Davis. 

Throughout her work hair is a metaphor for something deeper , a level of freedom prized with the owning of ones own identity, very much similar to the significance and thought process of black woman choosing to keep or go natural in the community. Rendered in oil and acrylic, her paintings at times have simple primary coloured backgrounds, which lend them a vivid Pop Art sensibility; in others, a darker mood is created, referencing the works of the Old Masters.

Located in Davies Street, Mayfair, Signature African Art was founded by Rahman Akar. Of its first show, he says: “We are delighted to be opening a space in London, and thrilled that Oluwole Omofemi, one of Nigeria’s most compelling young artists, is our first show. In addition to his mastery of composition, his works are at once both celebratory and deeply thought-provoking.”

The Way We Were exhibition opens on the 12th of March at the Signature Art Gallery in Mayfair, it will run until the 9th of April.

Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root II’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art
Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Omonalisa’ Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art
Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root III’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

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Fred Perry x The Museum Of Youth Culture: From Bedrooms to Basements

31.01.2020 | Art , Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

Cover image by Tony Othen-Bede Association

In collaboration with the Museum of Youth Culture, British brand Fred Perry has  announced the launch of two in-store take overs with the emerging museum in two of their London locations. The aim of the project is to inspire future generations to make an impact on the world around them, and the first installation is under the theme “From Bedrooms to Basements.” 

This takeover is an ode to scenes and sounds made by young people within the last 100 years, which will be displayed through a compilation of crowdsourced photography as well as images from the original archive of Fred Perry. 

The space will also be interactive with a DIY Scanning booths, allowing its audience the chance to participate. 

The Fred Perry x Museum of Youth Culture project is currently in motion in Fred Perry’s Camden & Henrietta Street stores.

Image by Sharon Long

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