Lewisham residents begin voting for Black Female Icons

The Lewisham Black Icons Mural is to be created by three mural artists. Pic: Roxanne Williams

Lewisham residents are taking part in a vote for the creation of three murals of significant Black women from the borough.

As part of the Black Icons Project, the murals will be created by three artists during the annual Brockley Max Festival, with the vote closing on March 31. 

Residents have the choice between 14 women who have created an impact with their work from local campaigns to international ones. 

After the voting ends, the artwork will be produced by three London-based artists, Roxanne Williams, Amanda Graham and Jelly J. 

Moira Tait, the director of the Brockley Max festival, told ELL:

“I’m thrilled that the Black Icons event will be part of this year’s Brockley Max festival. It’s so important that the contributions of amazing Black women in Lewisham are known about and celebrated, and are to be memorialised as murals of which Brockley is well known for.”

Inspiring next generation

The Brockley Max Festival is a community arts festival that takes place across different venues in Brockley, Ladywell, Crofton Park and Honor Oak, celebrating local talent. It is held in the first week of June each year, with the 2023 festival being held between June 2 and June 10. 

This will be the 22nd year of the Brockley Max Festival taking place in Lewisham.

Roxanne Williams, one of three artists participating, told ELL:

“I am excited to take part in the Brockley Max Black Icons project, having the honour to paint a local female legend who has paved the way for my generation to aspire higher, in the area I was raised will be a highlight for my artistry.“

“Paying homage and capturing their essence using my expressive vibrant approach to portraiture is something I hope will resonate with the community while adding to the awesome murals already in Brockley.”

“I’d love it if seeing it inspires the next generation of icons because as the phenomenal writer Bell Hooks says ‘What we cannot imagine, we cannot come into being’”.

Lewisham students are invited by Brockley Max to enter their own artwork based on celebrating inspirational black role models and their achievements. The artwork will be featured online, with finalists being put in a physical exhibition during the festival.

‘Untold Stories’

The Black Icons project is part of the Mayor of London’s Untold Stories, created to allow insight into invisible, contested or absent diverse heritage in London’s public spaces, according to the Untold Stories webpage:

“In 2021, Art UK published the first comprehensive audit of public sculpture across the capital, revealing huge disparities in representation.

“Our own conversations with community groups showed that Londoners wanted support and resources to develop grassroots ideas that make an impact through multiple means, from audio tours that highlight invisible heritage to new objects and artworks that celebrate important themes, events, everyday Londoners or historical figures.”

The Untold Stories programme has also donated funds towards the creation of a pollution-absorbing sculpture in memory of Ella Adoo Kissi Debrah, who was the first person to have air pollution on her death certificate when she passed away in 2013.

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