Recently unveiled on Freston Road, W10 is a stunning new large-scale mural by London artists Birungi Kawooya and Bokani. The artwork is part of the Untold Stories initiative, and also part of the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. Artists Birungi and Bokani were selected by Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (KCAW) and the curatorial art platform Black Blossoms to create the mural.
The two artists collaborated together and merged their two distinct art styles – the dreamscape of Bokani’s abstract painting and Birungi’s figures – to inspire the community on the topic of resilience and consider how we can relax, rejuvenate, and restore. They reflected on their own personal and cultural experiences of resting and how rest becomes a reward in the demanding and capital-driven society we live in.
The artists also worked with local community members who attend Homefield House Children Centre, a local family services centre helping parents and carers. There they explored ideas around rest as a source of nourishment and considered ways mothers can prioritise their well-being.
About the artists
Bokani is a multi-disciplinary artist involved in multiple mediums that address climate justice and integral ecology. Chiefly concerned with our complicity, her works elicit a new response to nature and the patterns of our interconnectivity. The ethics and liberatory capacities of Black feminist protest and thought underpin her practice as an artist and her belief in the transformative capacities of art. Her practice encompasses abstract painting (including mixed-media works exploring the possibilities of clay and stain glass), drawing, photography, digital art, installations, and street art.
Bokani, Zimbabwean born and raised and now living and working in London, has a BSc degree in Politics and Economics from the University of Bath and a Masters in Computational Art from Goldsmiths College. She previously participated in BBC1’s The Big Painting Challenge and won the public vote in the first week.
Birungi Kawooya is a collage artist and tutor who is inspired by nature, Black womxn and the ingenuity of dance from the African diaspora using batik, paper, paint and sculpture. Her works celebrate Black womxnhood, elevating rest, joy and well-being. In 2020 she reflected on how Black womxn are pivotal in leading social justice movements and she started the collection, “Sisters Need Sleep”; the body of work invites Black womxn to rest and reimagine an equitable society for all.
Birungi leads mindful African art programmes and creates spaces to help people work through anxiety, stimulate their imagination, and connect to vibrant African textiles. Her presentations and art talks help people to understand the connection between art and storytelling as she explores themes of African diasporic identity, authenticity, and well-being.
Birungi is currently on an art residency in Uganda with 32 Degrees, formerly known as the Ugandan Arts Trust. She is exploring natural fibres ahead of a group exhibition at the Makerere University art gallery, with the support of the Arts Council England and Njabala Foundation. Her art will portray themes of trauma resolution, time travel, wellbeing, and sculptural installations to invite womxn to rest.
Kensington + Chelsea Art Week and Black Blossoms
The sixth edition of Kensington + Chelsea Art Week will be held from 22nd June to 2nd July 2023. The festival aims to promote Kensington and Chelsea as a cultural hotspot and showcase art and culture across the borough. Developed with community consultation in 2018 and still steered by community organisations dedicated to promoting local art and culture, local and international audiences are drawn to the hundreds of cultural events and installations throughout the borough held in studios, museums, galleries, exhibition spaces and businesses.
Black Blossoms has partnered with Kensington + Chelsea Art Week since 2020 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and as part of KCAW’s efforts to redress the systemic underrepresentation and under support of black womxn artists. It is an expanded curatorial project showcasing artists with meaningful stories to tell.