April has been a busy month. I visited Ukraine during the first round of elections and watched how a comedian rose to power to become the new president. During the election period, the atmosphere felt tense in Kyiv, despite the sunny spell glowing over the city. I interviewed several people to try and understand what it was that made Zelensky, the newly elected president, such an attractive candidate. I stayed with several people spanning different generations, including an eighty year old Poroshenko supporter, a young woman working in the tech world and a group of students, journalists and programmers who lived in one of Kyiv’s co-living apartments. The later was a particularly interesting initiative that rose out of the Maidan as a way of connecting young, like minded people together to pursue their own projects and combat increasing rents in the capital. In the end, I found the topic of politics rather heavy and well trodden, so decided to create a short film about the co-living space to offer an insight into the positive directions Kyiv’s youths are taking. The film will be released here shortly.
If you are in London over the next 3 weeks, there is something you should go and see. The immersive theatre production of the Ukrainian Revolution (The EuroMaidan) on at the Vaults Festival, in Waterloo. Although sadly I will miss it, I have heard very good reviews as the revolution is brought to life in front of the audiences' eyes.
It shows a fascinating insight into the legacy of the revolution and how art and activism can come together to keep the revolutionary ideas going. Also it is brought to you by directors from one of the most well renowned underground theatre groups, Belarus Free Theatre.
Music and food are also part of the event, to truly bring London to the brinks of Kyiv midst protest.
EYESORE magazine is a contemporary platform for exploring politics, cultures, issues through investigation of cities. I wrote an article for their latest issue, commenting on my experience in post-revolution Kyiv back in 2017. The article features interviews with young people who took part in the revolution and how they feel it has affected Ukraine several years on, as well as looking into the Kyiv activist scene.
The latest issue is available to buy online or in select stores across the UK and Europe. As well as their printed content, EYESORE also release podcasts and host discussion and events. Follow them online to keep up to date with everything they are doing. eyesore.co.uk
For 5 days, a bright red barge was moored in Granary Square, Kings Cross, displaying the work of 6 young illustrators. I used the opportunity to display a variety of paintings and drawings from the past three years, encompassing landscapes, portraits and scenes from films; something a little different from my usual, political route. It was a fantastic chance to show my work in Central London, which would otherwise have cost an unfeasibly disgusting amount for a young artist. So if you are looking for a floatable, alternative and affordable space to put on an exhibition, performance or even a cinema screening check out:
My trip to Bucharest in September led me to an artist hub filled with creatives seeking a positive change in Romania. A group of them took full advantage of their imaginative skill-set, to further the anti-government/ anti-corruption movement currently taking place in the country. The result was a giant puppet of the goddess, Justice, who joined the protestors during the mass August demonstrations, standing proudly with her people. Having initially seen the puppet on an Instagram post, I decided to contact the art hub and meet the masterminds behind its creation. Dreamt up by puppeteer Ana Lambru, and in the same vein as the politically radical movement Bread And Puppet Theatre, Justice holds up a light to the corruption taking place in plane sight. She gave people hope and in many ways gave a face to the leaderless but obstinate crowd.
Instead of going down my normal comic route, I turned towards film to tell the story of Justice. It's my first attempt at documentary making and was filmed predominantly on a smart-phone, a tool which has thankfully allowed me to experiment with filmmaking. Although short, it captures the power of the puppet and offers up an insight into Romania's protests. I've deliberately left out gory, brutal footage as that seems to have become fetishised by the media, thus losing it's impact. However you can still very much gauge the movement's intensity. If you want to follow the unfurling events in Romania, I recommend checking out this YouTube channel:
I plan to return to Romania in 2019 and report upon the changes that have taken place since my last visit and the continuing pressure the creative community is placing upon the government,
A fantastically conscious discussion last night from MANDEM at Goldsmith's University, about how race and class affect the image and role of fatherhood. The discussion was particularly insightful regarding the issues of black male masculinity and the negative connotations that have been perpetuated in the media, as well as the flexibility of fatherhood, i.e does it have to be your biological father who plays the role of the father. I'm very glad to have been asked to do the illustration for this event and it was awesome seeing it projected up there behind the four incisive panelists.
There are future plans to work again with MANDEM and you can keep up to date with their articles and all future events here- https://mandemhood.com/mandemhood.com/
This years BCZF at The Fire Station, was even more packed out than last year! So many great illustrators were there and it was cool to be able to sell my Untold Comic series alongside them for the first time. There was an exceptional talk from Hamja Ahsan, about the history of zine's and their political power. I had a fantastic chat with him afterwards and brought his latest book 'Shy Radicals: The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert' which you can purchase here- https://www.bookworks.org.uk/node/1917
Last night was the opening of the much anticipated political group show 'The Great Divide', curated by New York artist Tommy Watkins at Oxford's OVADA Gallery. We had spent the past week converting the large warehouse into Tommy's vision of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, complete with burnt out houses. To see it come to life and filled with an audience of around 300 strong people, all amazed at the world they had unexpectedly stepped into, was a truly great feeling.
The show features work from 60 different artists from across the world, drawing attention to the current divisive issues affecting us; sexism, racism, consumerism, austerity, the War on Terror, Brexit, Trump, Putin and Kim Jong Un ware all targets. It's a vast array of artwork, with everything from textiles, sculptures, painting, illustration and even animation. The evening was a fantastic gathering of like-minded people coming together to talk about the shit-storm we still seem to be stuck in. To help everyone get through the depression, local hip-hop group, Inner Peace Records, soothed the crowd with some smooth tunes and conscious rap, whilst outside there was some live graffiti demos. There will be two more events at the exhibition, including a performance art evening on the 6th October and a Film Night and Artists Talk on the 26th October. You can follow everything on the OVADA website- http://www.ovada.org.uk/events/