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Black Lives Matter exhibition by South Woodford artist on display in Oxford Street

PUBLISHED: 10:00 29 July 2020

South Woodford-based artist Kelvin Okafor's latest exhibition will go on display outside the Flannels flagship store in central London from July 27  to August 9. Picture: W1 Curates

South Woodford-based artist Kelvin Okafor's latest exhibition will go on display outside the Flannels flagship store in central London from July 27 to August 9. Picture: W1 Curates

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Hyper realist South Woodford artist Kelvin Okafor has launched a new exhibition in central London’s Oxford Street in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Trailblazers in Kelvin Okafor's latest exhibition will include Bernie Grant, Barack Obama, Winnie Harlow, Beyonce, Prince, Idris Elba, Tinie Tempah, Naomi Campbell, Lauryn Hill, the late Nelson Mandela and human rights activist and musician Fela Kuti. Picture: W1 CuratesTrailblazers in Kelvin Okafor's latest exhibition will include Bernie Grant, Barack Obama, Winnie Harlow, Beyonce, Prince, Idris Elba, Tinie Tempah, Naomi Campbell, Lauryn Hill, the late Nelson Mandela and human rights activist and musician Fela Kuti. Picture: W1 Curates

Kelvin has created photo-like portraits of a number of black trailblazers, with his creations set to feature on digital public art platform W1 Curates, outside the Flannels store until August 9.

The award-winning artist was driven by the BLM movement to pay homage to influential black individuals, including the late South African president Nelson Mandela, the UK’s first black MP Bernie Grant, and the US’s first black president Barack Obama.

Other figures featured include models Winnie Harlow and Naomi Campbell, actor Idris Elba, singers Beyonce, Prince, Tinie Tempah and Lauryn Hill and musician Fela Kuti.

Kelvin said: “I wanted to showcase these individuals who have had the courage to do things differently, and have contributed to society in ways that offered inspiration and a fresh perspective on how black people are seen. They have all been a major influence and inspiration to me, and shaped my journey in art, spirituality and philosophy.”

Kelvin's portrait of the UK's first black MP, Bernie Grant, who is one of the trailblazers included in the artist's Oxford Street exhibition. Picture: Bernie Grant Archive Bishopsgate InstituteKelvin's portrait of the UK's first black MP, Bernie Grant, who is one of the trailblazers included in the artist's Oxford Street exhibition. Picture: Bernie Grant Archive Bishopsgate Institute

Kelvin’s detailed portraits are often mistaken for photographs, and are created using mainly pencil and charcoal.

His dedication — he can spend between 200 and 300 hours on each portrait — will only be magnified by his creations being on display across three floors of the Oxford Street store. He hopes the display will inspire others and make art more accessible.

Kelvin has joined illustrious company in being displayed on the W1 Curates digital public art platform, with David Bailey, David LaChapelle, Michael Craig-Marin and Ian Davenport amongst those to be featured.

He explained the extra significance behind this honour: “As a child growing up in London it was such an exciting experience to go to Oxford Street. It is one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets and I would visit regularly to see department stores and marvel at the ambience. As an artist who has always been inspired to draw portraits of people, Oxford Street felt like heaven, as around half a million people would visit daily from all different cultural backgrounds, so it’s an honour to have my work showcased there.”


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