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  • NATASHA HASTINGS, YULIA BRODSKAYA. PHOTO COURTESY OF YULIA BRODSKAYA

Common Thread: The Talk

by Sara Khan

We joined forces with Creative Debuts and Dazed media to launch our campaign Common Thread to promote diversity in the arts. We believe in the power of storytelling through craft, art, and design. Throughout August – October 2018, we will be providing a platform for the talents of tomorrow to tell their stories.

We launched in August by holding an exhibition featuring 25 artists from the UK and beyond in a celebration of African-Caribbean identity and culture through craft, design, and art. We had 700+ people attend over 3 days and you can see what happened here or read more here and here.  

To continue our campaign we will be holding a panel talk hosted by Kelechi Okafor to coincide with Black History Month at 7-10pm on 23 October at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, London. The talk is formed of creatives from across the arts having an honest conversation about their creative journeys, experience, representation, barriers they faced, and solutions to these issues. We want to inspire a new generation of creatives who want to break the mould as well as being part of that journey as a cultural organisation ourselves.

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Our panellists will include

Kelechi Okafor . Photo Kelechi Okafor

Kelechi Okafor is an Actress, Director and Dance Innovator. She has been featured in Gal-Dem after hitting the headlines for experiencing discrimination as a dance teacher by a dance studio in Manchester. She started a go-fund me page and opened Kelechnekoff fitness studio in 2016 to encourage more women to utilise dance fitness as a form of self-discovery and healing. Kelechi is well-known for social media commentary and essays that highlight societal structures and behaviours. She has played many acting roles in theatre and TV dramas including the BBC’s Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week.

Jamal Edwards MBE. Photo Meara Kallista-Arco

Jamal Edwards MBE started his career as an amateur filmmaker in 2006. Through a lot of hard work and determination Jamal’s passion later developed into the media empire, SBTV. His work and commitment has earnt him an MBE for his service to music, as well as being recognised in Forbes 30, under 30 list. For the first three years of his career, Jamal singlehandedly provided footage of grime artists including Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Chipmunk and Tinchy Stryder. Jamal has progressed from creating his own YouTube channel, to curating stages at Bestival and Wireless and from filming on British housing estates, to recording interviews inside 10 Downing Street. In 2013 Jamal became the first YouTuber to release an e-book and interactive game, ‘Self-Belief: The Vision’, which subsequently became a no.1 best seller which led to a print version via Virgin Books.

Simone Brewster. Photo Simone Brewster

Simone Brewster is a London-based British designer, with a diverse training which spans architecture, product design and jewellery. Calling upon the infusion of cultures and experiences she is exposed to during London life, she takes reference from her Caribbean background, placing it in a contemporary British context to expose a rich visual and social relationship. The work born from these beginnings join with her distinctive interest in adornment. Simone’s work has been exhibited at the British Embassy during the London Olympic Games, The Royal College of Art 175 Year Anniversary Exhibition, Collect at the Saatchi Gallery, amongst many other international exhibitions. Her jewellery has been stocked at Farfetch and Wolf & Badger.

Dreph is a graffiti and visual artist that has been featured by the BBC, Evening Standard, the Guardian, and Gal-Dem. He is best known for his large-scale portraiture work in public spaces that pay tribute to living unsung heroes and heroines. His You Are Enough series hit the headlines for portraying and celebrating everyday strong Black women who are doing amazing things in their communities and who often don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Dreph is currently working on Migration, series of portraits focusing on UK immigrants. With post-Brexit referendum, and with the national conversation around immigration, he was inspired to show the human face, and tell the stories of individuals, from the communities that make up the UK’s diverse immigrant population.

Toya Delazy. Photo Cosmopolitan

Toya Delazy is a London-based South African singer, pianist, dancer and performer from Zululand. She has released two albums under Sony Music Africa and one her own label Delazy Entertainment. She was nominated in the Best International Act (Africa) category at the 2013 BET Award and has made a major impact on South African top 40 radio. Toya was also a brand ambassador for the Reebok Classics and recently hit the headlines for firing back at the 'homophobic' criticism she received for wearing a Zulu dress to Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's birthday earlier this year.

Jesse Bernard. Photo Jesse Bernard

Jesse Bernard is a writer, journalist and photographer with work seen in TRENCH, The Fader, Noisey, The Guardian, FACT Mag, Boiler Room, Complex and more. He is currently a contributing editor at TRENCH and was previously a weekend editor for Highsnobiety. His work predominantly covers music, culture, the arts, mental health and race. He is also a workshop facilitator in schools and colleges across London and a mentor for LCC Black journalism students. Most recently, Jesse’s work will be featured in an upcoming anthology SAFE exploring Black masculinity.

There will also be an opportunity to catch the exhibition if you missed it the first time round showing works from 25 artists from the UK and beyond celebrating African-Caribbean culture. Expect to see works including photography, ceramics, textiles, embroidery, digital art, and an opportunity to meet the artists.

7-10pm on 23 October at Protein Studios, London with doors opening for 6:30pm and a prompt 7pm start. Tickets cost £10 and include entry to the panel talk, exhibition, a goodie bag, and a complimentary drink upon arrival.

The money raised through ticket sales will be given to our Young People’s Programme to support empower them to deliver creative activities and inform our creative programming.

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