Celebration of women artists on show to mark Black History Month

‘He left me’ by Audrey Stapleton

Art by five black female artists from London was displayed to mark Lewisham’s Black History Month at Brockley Pop Up Shop, a corner shop hosting temporary exhibitions by local artists.

The exhibition, ‘Celebrating Our Sisters,’ drew crowds to the shop to view paintings, photography, sculptures, and multi-media installations for sale. Organised by pop artist Danielle O’Connor, the event was funded by a £500 grant from Lewisham Council and endorsed by Lewisham Arthouse, a not-for-profit organisation providing affordable workspaces for artists.

O’Connor told Eastlondonlines: “There’s not a lot of famous black female artists. A lot of black people are coming in with their kids and saying ‘this is amazing because we don’t usually see things like this.’”

Danielle O’Connor, holding pictures of artists Fineza Nzinga, Audrey Stapleton, Sophia Oshodin and Cassie Porter

The exhibition was a celebration of the contribution black women make to Lewisham. O’Connor, whose work featured alongside paintings by her mother, self-taught artist Audrey Stapleton, added: “When I was younger I always used to see my mom draw. So that’s what inspired me.”

The Brockley Pop Up also featured paintings by artist Sophia Oshodin, photographs by Fineza Nzinga and dolls by Cassie Porter. Each of these artists selected pieces that capture their personality and creative methods.

It was important to the artists that their work reflect the diversity of their styles to avoid the pigeonholing that happens when black women are expected to represent their race. O’Connor said, “I don’t see myself as a black artist. I’m just an artist.”

The 2021 census showed that more than a quarter of Lewisham residents are black.

O’Connor said she plans to organise more exhibits by marginalised groups. “I know a lot of female artists. Women are underrepresented in a lot of industries so it would be good to do a girl’s one.

“I want to make people feel like they can do this as well. Everyone’s got some great artwork inside them.”

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