Being awarded the Arts Foundation Music For Change Fellowship was a very proud moment in my career to date, one that has led me onto an even broader and more exciting artistic journey. Music can absolutely make a change in society, and to be awarded such a fellowship shows that my work is moving others in a positive way.
In terms of my artistic career, the unrestricted financial support enabled me to develop my musical skills and also build out my wider artistic practice. It has also given me the time and space to approach artists from other fields for collaboration.
I was fortunate to have a number of artistic moments and commissions in the year. My National Gallery X (National Gallery and King’s College London) and Nesta commission HOME-Zero involved a workshop on sustainable social housing and promenade performance on Earth Day 2022, which featured an all-Black cast of poets and dancers taking over three of the National Gallery’s largest rooms. The two thirty-minute in-gallery performance I directed and composed a new musical score for attracted the National Gallery’s largest crowds since pre-pandemic.
As part of Theaster Gate’s Serpentine Pavillion Black Chapel I was commissioned to create a new piece Canary, Why Are We in the Coal Mine…?, which I performed on 9th July 2022. After which, I was interviewed by Serpentine Director Hans-Ulrich Obrist alongside author and social entrepreneur UK Designer of the Year Hilary Cottam and 2019 Venice Biennale Golden Lion winners Rugile Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelyte, creators of Sun & Sea (Marina).
Starting an arts and clean air campaign LIVE + BREATHE for Black and marginalised communities of colour in Lambeth and Southwark was another major achievement to help give voice to communities that deserve more platforms and to be heard. The flagship LIVE + BREATHE video received combined views across social media platforms of 135k, and the free Clean Air Day multi-activity LIVE + BREATHE community day event attracted 600 attendees, with 9 community groups and 8 artists/influencers. A total of 15 community groups were sub-granted and 6 youth group workshops had 134 attendees. The in-person youth workshops reached an ethnically diverse group, with at least 75% identifying as BIPOC (41% Black, 23% Mixed, 11% Asian). From this workshop, 59% reported a change in belief to one of air pollution being a serious health issue.
From an international perspective, I had my first visual art piece shown at MoMA PS1, New York as part of Slow Factory’s debut Homeroom exhibition The revolution is a school.
It has been incredible to have my work noticed by the likes of Veronica Chambers, Editor of Narrative Projects at the New York Times. In June 2022 I was also invited as a speaker for New York Times Climate Forward London for a panel ‘I Am the City: Creating Public Spaces to Inspire Change’ with ’15-minute city’ innovator Professor Carlos Moreno (Panthéon-Sorbonne University) and Pam Warhurst (Incredible Edible).
I also recorded my first classical piece Capes For Blue Skies with Royal Festival Hall’s Philharmonia Orchestra with Abbey Road’s John Barrett (Jonny Greenwood, The Rolling Stones, Frank Ocean, Bob Dylan), which formed the creative starting point for the LIVE + BREATHE project. Following on from this successful work, I was subsequently offered the position of Artist in Residence 2022/23 with Philharmonia, which will culminate in a new performance and production on June 8th 2023 at Royal Festival Hall’s Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre.