King Owusu is celebrating his West African heritage this month by representing the inspiring matriarchal figures in his Ghanaian-London community in a new series of portraits on display on billboards across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The London-based Ghanaian-British artist, illustrator and model creates colourful and bold, narrative-led artworks that are anchored in a “fundamental drive to share some simple truths about humanity, community, and inclusivity, and to enlarge our empathy,” as he puts it. “One aspect of my work that is really important to me is its accessibility and telling stories that highlight and capture the black experience.”
The outdoor show is part of an ongoing project called Your Space Or Mine, organised by the BUILDHOLLYWOOD family of JACK, JACK ARTS and DIABOLICAL which brings art to our streets and champions established and emerging talent.
In this latest instalment by Owusu, we see him pay tribute to the strong female characters in his life. “I wanted to create some work to celebrate my mother and my aunties just like her; for the place that they hold in our hearts and the role that they occupy in our communities,” says Owusu. “My mum has all these really beautiful clothes that she would wear to different occasions and celebrations, be it her Kente cloth worn on the utmost special events or her Diamond club clothes that she would wear to community funerals and mornings.
“I’ve just been really inspired by these women – the support they give to our communities, and the inspiration that they evoke by bringing such a beautiful aspect of our traditional culture to this side of the world. It feels extremely surreal to see it out here; for it to exist in real spaces for everyone to see. I hope this work can inspire other people to paint or create some art too and, for those people that recognise the symbol of these African aunties, that they too feel represented and maybe even a sense of ownership of the artwork.”