By Antonia Molloy
An exhibition by artist Joy Richardson is on display at Hackney Central Library to celebrate Black History Month this October.
Surviving Conflict, a series of oil on canvas paintings dealing with the themes of isolation and being part of a community, can be viewed throughout the month during library opening hours.
Guyanan-born Richardson who came to Britain aged three, said: “My inspiration comes from my mother, who struggled to raise three children in a strange land and I admire the strength of people who are able to keep their families together under huge pressure.”
Many of the paintings feature women and children in scenes ranging from hair-plaiting to boy soldiers returning home. Richardson, who is also an actress, brings an element of performance to her work. She explained that her paintings show the “daily rituals of life”, but the contexts these are played out in can give a sense of belonging, alienation or both.
“I grew up in Hackney and I’ve always wanted to have an exhibition here,” Richardson said. “Black History Month gives a voice to black people which they otherwise might not have.”
Surviving Conflict has received positive feedback from its steady flow of visitors. Adrian Morris, Duty Library Manager, explained that artwork is a way of bringing people together and encouraging use of the library.
A different exhibition is hosted every month and Morris welcomes applications from local artists: “We feature local people all the time from any walk of life,” he said. “We encourage people to come along and display their work.”
Richardson’s exhibition is just one of many events planned throughout the borough for Black History Month, including topical talks by guest speakers Steve Martin and Sandra Agard.
For more information visit www.hackney.gov.uk/black-history-month