Event: Diversity in Photojournalism Forum

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Earlier this week, I attended a panel discussion on Diversity in Photojournalism at theprintspace. The speakers on the panel were Anna Gordon, Suzanne Plunkett and Chin We, all women photographers who were invited to speak about the challenges of working in a male-dominated field of photography and also, why there is lack of diversity within the industry. This event was organised by Photo Forum and it was lead by Helen Healy, the Head of Pictures at the Financial Times.

Here are a few stats that were discussed in the forum:

  • Research conducted by the University of Stirling in the UK and the World Press Photo Foundation found that at least 70% of women photographers face discrimination in the workplace.
  • And only 1% of participating photographers in the research classify themselves as Black (makes you wonder how many of those were women).
  • Furthermore, women will certainly face some form of harassment during their career as a photographer.
  • Also, women drop out of the photography industry after university even though they tend to be more female students than male.
  • You will also find that major professional bodies like AOP, NUJ, RPS, etc. have less than 30% female members.

Here is a snippet of what the panellists had to say with regards to their experiences working as photographers.

Suzanne Plunkett – “The Associated Press (AP) sent me to Afganistan. My mission was to photograph the female angle. My editor said that because all of the photographers that had been sent there during the war were men, they had no photographs of women. Here I am in Kabul in 2002 and it was just after the fall of the Taliban, many Afgan men did not know how to deal with an influx of self-assured female journalists. Their confusion resulted in sexual assaults in crowded places. Myself and many of my female counterparts were frequently groped while working. And not just in Afganistan. I try not to think about it. I just remove their hands (from my private places) and continue working.” – Follow her on Instagram @suzanne_plunkett

Anna Gordon – “While Suzanne was in Afganistan, I was pounding the mean streets of Enfield as a trainee at a local newspaper. A random man stopping me on the roadside to explain, “You shouldn’t change lenses in the street. You’ll get dust on them.” A helpful PR stating, “I’ve set everything up for you. All you have to do is press the button.” A subject I was photographing saying, “I feel like you are about to kiss me.” Numerous people asking me, “Do you actually make a living our of photography?” Explaining what a breast pump was to Bill Clinton’s security detail. Negotiating a fee for a shoot to commemorate the Holocaust while locked in a toilet in my child’s nursery. Few of my experiences as a female photographer.” – Follow her on Instagram @annaggordon

Chin We – “From my colleagues, it is very difficult to get into photography through the art world. There is a lack of diversity for people who look like me. If more people of colour are seen to be doing these kinds of stories, things will change. For example, the New York Times commissioned a white photographer to go to Africa to feature a story. They need to commission local photographers , because the story would look different from how a white photographer would capture it. African Journalist database has over 400 photographers living in the continent, but the New York Times prefer to fly a white photographer to Africa. The problem also is that the gate keepers are white and male and if they are not willing to hire black photographers, it’s not going to work.” – Follow her on Instagram @chinw_e

Women Photograph has collected data on photographs published and how many of those are by women photographs. Here is a glimpse of data collected from this year alone from US-based publications only.

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I know there is still a lot to be done to make the industry more accepting of women and photographers from minority groups. At least conversations are being had and changes are happening, albeit slowly.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this observation by a female photographer who took part in the research by the University of Stirling in the UK and the World Press Photo Foundation.

“I think that how photojournalists are employed in today’s era of rapidly rising living costs — almost exclusively as private contractors — without any parental leave, health or pension benefits, dramatically influences the people who are able to choose to work in the field over the long term. I look around our industry and it’s true, I see a lot of men, but mostly what I see is people with no kids. I feel like the gender makeup is more equal among photographers in their 20’s but it becomes much less balanced among photojournalists in their 30’s and beyond, with men making up the majority. These men though, who make up the majority of older photojournalists, at least the ones I know, are for the most part, childless, or they have a partner who is the primary parent, or stays at home full time. If I look at my female colleagues, many of them are in the same position.”

If you are interested, you can read the whole report here.

#PhotoDiversity

 

Exhibition: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

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‘The Fortress, 2014’ by Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola) – 1-54 Courtyard Sculpture Commission
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‘The Purple Shall Govern, 2019’ by Mary Sibande (South Africa) as part of her solo exhibition I Came Apart at the Seams
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‘Turn, turn, turn, 2019’ by Mary Sibande (South Africa) as part of her solo exhibition I Came Apart at the Seams
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‘History Papers, 2019’ by Adeunmi Gbadebo (USA)
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Detail of ‘History Papers, 2019’ by Adeunmi Gbadebo (USA) – a mix of cotton, indigo dye and human hair.
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Close-up detail of ‘History Papers, 2019’ by Adeunmi Gbadebo (USA) – a mix of cotton, indigo dye and human hair.
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Quilted portraits of African-Americans by Bisa Butler (USA)
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‘Macho Nne: The Honeycomb, 2019’ by Cyrus Kabiru (Kenya)
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‘It’s My Time & There Has To Be Another Way, 2019’ by Evans Mwangi (Kenya)
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From the series Interwoven by Kyle Meyer (USA)
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Circle Art Gallery from Kenya
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‘Failed Coup, 2019’ by Shabu Mwangi (Kenya)
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Art on the wall ‘Dexu Adüna, 2019’ is by Alexis Peskine (France) and the bike installation ‘MBK100, 2018’ is by Romuald Hazoumè (Benin)
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‘Carriage Clock, 2019’ by Yinka Shonibare, CBE (UK)
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‘The American Library Collections (Philanthropists), 2019’ by Yinka Shonibare, CBE (UK)
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‘Tightrope: Noiseless 14, 2019’ by Elias Sime (Ethiopia)
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Detail of ‘Tightrope: Noiseless 14, 2019’ by Elias Sime (Ethiopia)
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I saw Noma’s bag by Kenyan artist Michael Soi and I just had to take a picture.
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Photographs in lightboxes by Michel Papami Kameni (Cameroon)
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‘Untitled (boxes), 2018’ by Gareth Nyandoro (Zimbabwe)
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Detail of inside ‘Untitled (boxes), 2018’ by Gareth Nyandoro (Zimbabwe)
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Detail of inside ‘Untitled (boxes), 2018’ by Gareth Nyandoro (Zimbabwe)
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‘Speed Demon 1, 2, 3 & 4, 2019’ by Boris Nzebo (Gabon)
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On the wall is ‘Fatherhood’ by Prince Gyasi (Ghana) and the sculptures are by Alimi Adewale (Nigeria)
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This is me checking out Mxolisi Dolla Sapeta (South Africa) artist’s studio in South Africa using Virtual Reality (VR)
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‘Golden Horde 5, 2006’ by Hew Locke (Scotland)
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Close-up detail of ‘Golden Horde 5, 2006’ by Hew Locke (Scotland)
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‘L’écume de la mer, 2019’ by Louisa Marajo
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Detail of ‘L’écume de la mer, 2019’ by Louisa Marajo (Martinique)
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A sculpture by Jake Michael Singer (South Africa)
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Photographs from the exhibition Water Life by Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopia)
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Pop-up exhibition storefront for Jamm Rek: Quotidien Senegal a photography exhibition by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn (USA)
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Signage of the pop-up exhibition for Jamm Rek: Quotidien Senegal a photography exhibition by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn (USA)
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‘Marche HLM, 2013’ as part of Jamm Rek: Quotidien Senegal a photography exhibition by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn (USA)
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Top ‘Les Femme Paying Respect to Mame Diarra Bousso, 2015’ and bottom ‘Baye Fall Alamadies, 2014’ as part of Jamm Rek: Quotidien Senegal a photography exhibition by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn (USA)
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‘Sokhna Khady Ba, 2014’ as part of Jamm Rek: Quotidien Senegal a photography exhibition by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn (USA)
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Curator of Jamm Rek: Quotidien Senegal a photography exhibition by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn (USA), Atim Annette Oton, speaking to my friend Wasi
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Somerset House Seaman’s Hall at dusk
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‘Baga Nimba (Gold), 2019’ by Niyi Olagunju (Nigeria)
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‘Green button Qarboush, 2019’ by Qarm Qart (Egypt)
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Triptych of ‘The Urban Mask, 2019’ by Kagiso Patrick Mautloa (South Africa)
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Guests mingling
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With Aude Konan a writer and filmmaker from Ivory Coast
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With legendary photographers Joy Gregory (UK) and Sunil Gupta (India)
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With Arlene Wandera a sculptor from Kenya.
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With artists Celine_A (France) and Evans Mbugua (Kenya)
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Somerset House courtyard at night

It was an early start for me as I RSVP’d to be at the Press Preview breakfast and launch of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. The previous day it was raining heavily on and off and I was hoping that the weather would stay nice and calm. Luckily the sun came out to play and the morning air was crisp, but it was cold. And it is Black History Month!

This is the seventh edition of the fair which is held at Somerset House with 45 galleries from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America showcasing contemporary African art from all over the world with 15 of those galleries showcasing for the first time.

This year, the 1-54 Courtyard Sculpture Commission is The Fortress by Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda and for South African Mary Sibande, a first major solo UK exhibition of her photographic and sculptural works I Came Apart at the Seams which will continue on after the fair has ended until 5th January 2020. Another solo exhibition that will continue on after the fair until 20th October is an Afrofuturist tableaux Water Life by Ethiopian photographer and artist, Aïda Muluneh with a further nine solo exhibitions by various artists being displayed during the fair.

For me, this year 1-54 was an amazing experience as it was a long day of looking at artwork, networking and taking pictures. I even managed to squeeze in a visit to a pop-up hosted by Mak Gallery of a photography exhibition Jamm Rek: Quotidien Senegal by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn which ends on the same day on Sunday 6th October as 1-54. So, if you are in the area, please go and check it out. The address is 62 Church Street, London, NW8 8ET – nearest station is Edgware Road.

I went back to Somerset House for the evening event of drinks and more networking then I decided to call it a night.

Please give yourself plenty of time to walk through the fair’s space if you do decide to go, as there is so much to see judging from the ‘few’ photographs I have shared. And there are also screenings and talks happening as well, which are free to ticket holders, but you will need to book as spaces can be limited.

If you are reading this before the 06th of October and are in London, please go and see it. I highly recommend it.
Tickets are £25.00 for Day Ticket/ £10.00 concessions. Children under 12 go free.  Friday is FREE for students with student ID.

#ContemporaryAfricanArt

 

 

 

Event: Start Up Step Up London Launch

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Earlier this week, I was invited to attend an early morning event to launch a new business program at City Hall called Start Up Step Up London. It is a program that is part of the London Growth Hub and is supported by the Mayor of London, hence it being launched at City Hall.

I bet you are wondering as a photographer, why am I attending such an event to do with business if I wasn’t there to take pictures? And the answer is pretty simple – networking.

In the summer, around July, I attend a workshop on ‘Start Your Own Business’ run by Visionnaires. It was a 4-day workshop held at The College of Haringey Enfield and North East London (CONEL) at their Tottenham campus. The best part of this workshop other than the information I gathered in those four days is that it was FREE. Who doesn’t like free stuff especially if they are there to help you grow? Not me!

By attending this workshop, I was introduced to Pablo Lloyd OBE, the CEO and co-founder of Visionnaires and the person who ran the workshop. Also on the first and last day, we were joined by Robert who runs a business consulting firm, DDR Learning. Also, during one of the workshop sessions, Pablo invited a guest speaker, David Barker, the UK’s first internet entrepreneur in 1994 to give us his life story in business.

I am telling you all this not only to let you know that I am really working on making my brand/business as a photographer work but also to give you an idea as to how I got invited to the launch event I mentioned above. It was through the connections I built by attending the workshop.

The premise of the programme is to help individuals who want to go into business in the hope of becoming self-employed and successful in business by giving training, workshops, a mentor or coach and space to get started or continue to grow. As a creative, I know only too well the challenges I have had just getting my photography business up and running and I believe initiatives like this are the way forward.

I tried to see if I could get a video that was shown at the launch for Start Up Step Up London, but I wasn’t successful. I might include it here at a later date once it is shared online. In the meantime, please check this one out where Paulo talks about how and why he started Visionnaires.

 

I wasn’t there to take pictures during the event as I just wanted to be in the moment. In the end, I only managed to capture one of myself on the balcony with Tower Bridge in the background and a video showing the beautiful skyline of London on a nice sunny autumn day and another video of the space where the event took place.

As I was leaving, I got to speak to one of the security guys whilst I was waiting for my lift. I told him how amazing I thought the building is and he went on to tell me its green credentials as part of the legacy of the Mayor of London with recycled water being used for flushing the toilets and solar panels, which are part of the design of the building, that generate electricity used in there. And then, my lift came and I bid him a good day.

If you want to find out more about Start Up Step Up London, please click here and all the best in starting your own business.

#StartUpStepUpLondon

Exhibition: Get Up, Stand Up Now

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Multigraph 023 (Larry Achiampong) by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard
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Exhibition Entrance via West Wing of Somerset House
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Colourful corridor
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Floor detail of corridor
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‘Whenever I Hang’ – Poem by Grace Nichols
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Exhibition visitor looking at a glass cabinet display of artefacts collected over the years by Zak Ové’s father, Horace Ové
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‘Icepick, 2002’ by Satch Hoyt with audio of hair being combed by wooden, plastic and metal Afro picks
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Listen boxes were dotted around the space with various music spanning 50 years. This one was playing ‘Empire Road (1978)’ by Matumbi
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‘James Baldwin, 1983’ by Horace Ové
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‘Warm Broad Glow, 2005’ by Glenn Ligon
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‘Hair Relaxer, 2007-2008’ by David Hammons
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Warning sign at the entrance to one of the rooms.
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‘The Enigma of Arrival in 4 Sections. Section 1: Guess Who is Coming to Dinner, 2017’ by Cosmo Whyte
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Detail of ‘The Enigma of Arrival in 4 Sections. Section 1: Guess Who is Coming to Dinner, 2017’ by Cosmo Whyte
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‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Detail of ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Metal sculpture in the space – ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Detail of ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Detail of ‘Shrine to Wisdom, 2019’ by Victor Ekpuk
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Grace Wales Bonner’s friends Dennis Okwera and Wilson Oryema photographed by Lord Snowdon in her second collection Malik
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‘Woke, 2016’ by Sanford Biggers
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‘Michelle Barnase – Soul II Soul Jacket, 1989 and Jazzie’s Groove Cane, 1990’ by Jazzie B
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‘A Great Day in Hip-Hop, Harlem, New York, 1998’ by Gordon Parks
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‘The Barber’s Chair and Clippers, 2017’ by Faisal Abdu’allah
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‘Umbilical Progenitor, 2018’ by Zak Ové
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Detail of ‘Umbilical Progenitor, 2018’ by Zak Ové
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Do not touch the artwork – detail of ‘Umbilical Progenitor, 2018’ by Zak Ové
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T-shirt on sale at the exhibition store – this one made me chuckle.

I almost didn’t go to this exhibition. I had a pretty intense migraine for a few days and the last thing I needed was a ton of information being introduced to my already hurting head. If it wasn’t for my friends insisting, I would have easily stayed at home regretting my decision.

So, I gave myself a pep talk that morning and made my way to Somerset House where it was being held. I took a ten-minute stroll from Holborn Station convincing myself that I needed the fresh air and it was worth it. As I approached Somerset House from The Strand, on the facade was Multigraph 023 of artist Larry Achiampong that was shot by fellow artist and filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Seeing this I knew I was in for a treat. Ok, truth be told, I didn’t know what to expect.

Side note: I loved what Larry said when he showed his mum his portrait on the facade of Somerset House.

“Waited a while to show mum this image (shot by @iainandjane 🙏🏿) which is at the front of @somersethouse via Strand.
We cried
We talked about the cleaning jobs we did in the area years ago
We hugged
Mum talked about legacy, about the importance of (the kids and others) seeing black faces in this way….. about coming to this country with nothing, but now feeling like she’d gained something”

The skies were grey and the fountains at the courtyard were on. It was hard not to miss the entrance to the exhibition which was colourful against the grey exterior of the building. As soon as I made my way in, I purchased my ticket and had it scanned. The lady at the entrance handed it back to me and said start from the left side of the space and immediately I was hit by a very colourful corridor that made me stop in my tracks. Very Instagrammable and memorable. I could tell that the exhibition curator Zak Ové wanted the visitors to be left with a lasting impression from the get-go. How could you miss all that colour and pomp?

From poetry, photographs, sculptures, fabrics, music, video, film, etc., anything you can think of that can be exhibited in an art exhibition was there. Zak Ové did an amazing job curating this show. A glimpse on Black creativity spanning over 50 years. I have just a few shared photographs I managed to take whilst in the space and they don’t do the experience justice.

Also, I honestly thought the exhibition would be in the whole of Somerset House, but it was only on the West Wing of the building. I was low-key disappointed, but all that disappointment faded as there was plenty to see. Everywhere you looked you were drawn to what was being displayed. The experience was definitely multi-sensory. From the floors to the windows, even the skirting boards were carefully curated and thought out to bring the colourful nature of black art and creativity. The whole space was just a sculpture on its own. I loved it.

The poem ‘Wherever They Hang’ by Grace Nichols and ‘Before’ by Selena Nwulu are my favourites. This coming from a person who hardly reads poetry. As an immigrant, they just resonated with me.

Despite my migraine, I experienced Get Out, Stand Up Now for hours that I didn’t even notice the time pass by. I am glad that I did see it before it ended and that I bought the catalogue from the show.

If you are reading this before the 15th of September and are in London, please go and see it. I highly recommend it.
Tickets are £12.50 for adults / £9.50 concessions. Children under 12 go free.

The exhibition has ended now!

#GetUpStandUpNow

 

Personal: BA 2119 | Flight of the Future Exhibition

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Disclaimer: This post BA 2119: The Flight of the Future Exhibition first appeared on Bankelele as I was asked to write a guest post in return for visiting the exhibition.

I was fortunate enough to be invited/gifted a ticket to an interactive exhibition by British Airways in collaboration with students from the Royal College of Art (RCA) at the Saatchi Gallery as they showcased the future of flying in the next 100 years.

This year, British Airways is celebrating its 100th Anniversary as being part of a predecessor company AT&T (Air Transport & Travel Ltd) and this exhibition is a celebration of that long history by looking at aviation through history via FLY, an interactive, multisensory, virtual reality experience that turns you into a time traveller from being a bird, into Leonardo Da Vinci’s studio in Florence all the way to 100 years into the future to what aviation might look like with an aircraft that is guided to land by sight as one of the possibilities of air travel.

Together with FLY, eight other concepts were showcased at the exhibition. These included:

  • AVII (AVY), which I particularly liked as a concept to improve the experience of travellers using Artifical Intelligence (AI) in collaboration with cabin crew. The idea is to submit your needs as you book your flight, for example, if you have particular dietary needs and this information is fed back to the cabin crew who in return provide personalised service throughout your flight without even you asking.
  • Another concept, TASTENATION, uses data collected from DNA and body health to 3D print food for a new multi-sensory in-flight dining experience. This idea does away with food waste as meals are prepared from scratch onto edible cutlery and plates. Yet at the same time provide the necessary nutrients whilst on the air as it prepares the body to adjust to the cuisine of the traveller’s destination.
  • In line with reducing waste, THE FUTURE OF LUGGAGE is another concept that can also be realised. The vision where travellers would travel without any luggage as they will have to upload their clothes onto a digital wardrobe together with their measurements and depending on the weather, duration of their stay, etc. and the idea that you would arrive at your destination and find a set of clothes waiting for you at the airport lounge at your destination is pretty awesome. Clothes will be made from recycled materials that at the end of your trip, you drop them off at the airport where they are recycled.

There was so much to detailing to see at this exhibition from personalised wearable seats called AIRWEAR, to flying green with AERIUM, where the air we breathe and the water that we drink whilst flying is generated through bioavionics systems integrated as part of the plane. CURIO, a hypersonic modular aircraft with zero emissions and weird seating is one I did not get. And so did AER, a shape-changing smart luggage transportation concept.

Of the concepts, I saw at the exhibition, AVII(AVY), AERIUM, TASTENATION and THE FUTURE OF LUGGAGE looked like the ones that are likely to happen in the near future leading up to 2119 with the other concepts looking very unlikely, but I could be wrong and years beyond 2119, these other concepts could be a reality for many.

All in all, it was amazing to see how history and the advancement of technology inform us of the ideas and innovations of what is yet to come.

#FlightoftheFuture