Portrait of Stormzy – and his mother – comes home to Croydon

Stormzy’s Portrait with his Mother Abigail Owuo. Pic: Olivia Rose

Iconic grime artist Stormzy has his portrait exhibited at Central Croydon Library as part of the COMING HOME Initiative.

The portrait, loaned to Croydon Council by the National Portrait Gallery, is associated with the COMING HOME project. The NPG is lending 50 portraits of notable individuals across the country to the communities that the individuals are closely associated with. The aim is to allows these communities to celebrate the success of their local men and women.

Laura Down, Head of National Programmes at the NPG, told Eastlondonlines: “We met with colleagues from the Museum of Croydon and talked about the creativity in the borough both in terms of music and the arts. Through this conversation Stormzy came up as someone who as well as making music was supporting young people.”

“At the time, the National Portrait Gallery was keen to acquire a portrait of Stormzy and the portrait by Olivia Rose with his mother not only showed a strong relationship between mother and son but was really evocative of what ‘home’ could mean.”

Stormzy, born in Croydon and raised in South Norwood, is set to headline Glastonbury at the end of this month and achieved his first number one single with Vossi Bop in April, 2019.

The portrait is exhibited at the Museum of Croydon on Katherine Street and displays the English Grime artist with his mother, Abigail Owuo.

Pic: Redferns

The exhibition opened yesterday on June 4 and will be on display all summer until September 28. The award-winning photographer, Olivia Rose, told Eastlondonlines: “Stormzy’s rise to fame and ability to not let that affect who he is (a humble, hard-working and wonderful person) is so greatly reflected in the portrait of him and his mum Abigail.”

“They were at a pub in Oxford for Stormzy’s address to the students of Oxford University and it was a really organic process to shoot them together, it’s obvious that Stormzy is incredibly grateful to his mum and she is so viscerally proud of him.”

“In retrospect, this is one of my favourite portraits from the This Is Grime series, it sums up so much of what makes the music: pride, family, community and aspiration.”

The This Is Grime series is a book written by Hattie Collins with photography from Olivia Rose. It documents the history of Grime and shines a light on the artists and influencers who have significantly contributed to the genre, including Stormzy, JME and Wiley.

Councillor Oliver Lewis, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Stormzy is a local hero, not only as a talented musician, but because he is a real inspiration to so many of our young people. Croydon is incredibly proud of its rich music heritage, and as a music city we want to open up more opportunities for aspiring artists to follow in his footsteps. Residents and Stormzy fans will really enjoy seeing this stunning portrait in our local library, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to host this exhibition.”

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