Young illustrators draw on life in capital for show

Tommy Human's work offers a humorous take on his life in London Photo: Lucy Oben-Pepra

Tommy Human’s work offers a humorous take on his life in London Photo: Lucy Oben-Pepra

From still-life sketches of busy London to observational cartoons and urban portraits, the work of the artists at a new Shoreditch exhibition offers a diverse artistic view of life in the capital.

illLDN is a group art show  produced and organised by three recently graduated illustrators: Olivia Odiwe, Sahara Charles and Tommy Human.

The show is being held in the heart of East London’s thriving creative space of Shoreditch at Rich Mix – a social enterprise and charity offering live film, music, dance and other creative activities.

Some of the illustrations carry serious political statements that are juxtaposed with humorous and comical images compared to other pieces, which express a more literal and obvious portrayal of the subject matter in hand.

Human said his goal for the art show was to put on an exhibition “worth coming to see”. When speaking about his artistic style, he said that he “tried to find some funny elements to London and produce [his] pieces around those ideas, putting [his] own unique spin on it”. His artistic work of London life is arguably more objective than the other two London- born illustrators. Human is originally from Suffolk.

However, he’s used this to his advantage, creating a distinctive, and niche style in his artwork. “My perspective is from my countryside-born frame of mind: flustered by the crowds and Tube and …  [with] … ignorant stereotypes, imagining that everyone is friends with the Queen,” he said.

Charles said seeing her work in the exhibition for the first time was “slightly nerve-wracking”, but also said that hard work does indeed pay off.

“This is the first show I’ve actually physically set up, so once the hard work of setting it all up was finished and we were happy with the layout, to come back and see it at the private view was very relieving” said Sahara, who describes her illustrative style as “consisting of mainly line and small washes of colours”.

Odiwe said she was looking forward to displaying her work to the public. “The great thing about art is that so many different perspectives and opinions can come from one piece of work. I just want people to feel the personality and emotion of the person I’m capturing,” she said.

Her  work has already reached a larger audience than she may have ever possibly imagined. Her portrait of the East-London born rapper Mikill Pane got the attention of the musician himself.

“[He] saw the portrait I did of him for the exhibition and said it was brilliant and re-tweeted it to all his followers, which was amazing. There’s no better feeling than knowing people appreciate your work,” said Odiwe.

To see more pictures, visit the art show at the Lower Cafe Gallery, Rich Mix 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA.
The exhibition will be on every day until Sunday 28 July 2013. For more go to

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