hopeLatifah Nankivell passed away at the end of 2012. My beautiful mother died peacefully, in control of her care, with dignity and love. The grief that hit me, although expected, hit me hard. I’ve since learned that this may be linked with my mother being unable to grieve fully for her own mother. It may simply be that losing your mother is monumental – we are born from our mother’s flesh. When she passed, I could feel an endless line of women – her mother, her mother’s mother, her mother and all the mothers who are my female ancestors. I moved up a notch in the line, which has started reaching into the future with my own twin daughters Brooke and Sofie.

‘Time Heals’ is a series of four pieces about wading through the grieving process. I feel like I’ve come through the worst of the fog that is grief. I feel lighter, like Spring after a hard Winter. The times of the clock hands represent the time of my mother’s death, the time of my own birth and the births of my two daughters. Time shifts and changes, slows down, speeds up and stands still. It is momentous and miniscule, and it makes sense.

Latifah, may you rest in Peace, I thank you for the Love you gave and continue to give me. Sofie and Brooke give us Hope for the future and Faith that the cycle and circle of life and death continue as they should.

And if you wish to put a battery in the clock mechanism – it will begin to tick, tock, marking the passing of time once again. love

‘Time Heals’ will be shown as part of the ‘Vinyl Resting Place’ exhibition in Monty’s Bar & Lounge, 149 Brick Lane, E1 6SB, London for three weeks from Friday September 16th. Organised by The Family Collective, event page here.

When you’re in the minority, you get judged harder because you stand out, you also get easy props from a crowd, and it skews things. The first time I ever DJ’d in a club, I was terrible, but I had all these girls shaking my hand and going wild – it freaked me out! I threw down at De La Soul in Newport – I did such a basic set and got a massive cheer – it feels false and takes away some of the drive and ambition to be better, to train harder. It also doesn’t help as it can cause resentment from the bboys.

Painting is different to breaking and MCing, because you’re not putting your physical self out there (unless you’re in hotpants, but that’s a-WHOLE-nother topic…). Painting is a social thing for me – I vibe off other people – we don’t need a crowd, we just create. Friendships are formed with people who you trust and who you can let loose and be yourself with. I’ve found these friendships with both guys and girls in hip-hop, but I’ve kept the links over time with more girls – because I am one.

A lot of people say we shouldn’t separate male and female for events, making female only events, as it’s excluding people. In a way I do agree, but I have seen the benefit of events such as Femme Fierce, and the B-Girl competitions I’ve been to, in giving confidence to females to represent, and making links with other women who are into hip-hop. I’ve never run a ‘women only’ hip-hop event. I have however run events that try and address the huge imbalance that I see in our culture, where pretty much all the role models are guys.

We need to support one another and encourage girls to get involved in hip-hop, because we need more strong female role models. Male and female are nothing without the other, and a party’s much more fun when there’s a good mix of boys and girls… particularly if they’re all repping HARD!

 

3on3 comp - Unity, Sofly & Bonnie

3on3 Bgirl battle – Unity, Sofly & Bonnie

 

I love it when communities come together to make change. It’s not difficult once you get a few people together with a common cause –  living alongside one another I think it’s really important that we can work together too, looking after our own local area and instilling a sense of pride and belonging.

I came across the ‘Make Devon Road Beautiful‘ facebook page via a friend, and painted a piece on a garage there last week. It wasn’t a great place to paint because of all the traffic ROARING up and down the road where I was working, but this illustrates why the community has come together in the first place. The aim of this project is to calm traffic by creating a colourful environment, signalling to drivers that they are entering a residential space. Although I’m not from the area it feels good to have contributed in my own small way, to the change which residents of this area are seeking. Keep up the good work folks!

Unity devon road

‘Arthur’s Tree’ was created with 26 pupils from Tongwynlais Primary school. We had a fun morning spraying the grass and using sponges and brushes to create butterflies and flowers.

The project was a follow on from the work I did with RSPB on the ‘Grow Wild Cardiff’ campaign last year. The mural, created in time for visitors to the Fforest Farm open day to enjoy was created with the aim of engaging local residents in events taking place at the conservation centre. Visitors at the open day were able to contribute artwork to logs which will be used as seating around the area, as well as doing activities with RSPB and the Rangers team including bug hunting and creating cute little ‘natures palettes’.

Created with 26 pupils from Tongwynlais Primary School.

This project was supported by the Cardiff Parks Ranger Service and the Tongwynlais Our Neighbourhood group, who operate a Time Credits scheme in my lovely village. It was really lovely to link the school up with the Fforest Farm Conservation Centre which has some beautiful places to explore. What was really special about the project is that I did a workshop in the school’s foundation phase about three years ago, with the same pupils, so it was a really nice follow on to do this mural with them.

Created with visitors to the Fforest Farm open day

This weekend I painted at Leake Street as part of two events in the same place. Communication issues and frustration about Femme Fierce’s organisation and focus meant that a second event was arranged for the same day. This allowed artists to take back some control over their own environment. The mistrust around Femme Fierce is due to the fact that there is money involved with no accountability. On top of this, Ayaan doesn’t paint.

Graffiti, Rap, Djing and Breakin’ aren’t about performing or spectating – we exchange.

Rap began as lyrical cyphers, kids rhyming together for fun. Bboys exchanging ideas through dance cyphers. DJ’s provide the music for people to rap, to dance, to party – Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun! A good DJ controls the vibe, holds the flow, affects the mood, provides the energy.

A crowd can give energy to an MC or dancer, but it can also suck energy away. If too much is made of the performer/spectator dynamic, it becomes something else – the essence of hiphop is gone. I find it really strange painting in London because of the amount of spectators. We paint together for fun – we vibe off each other, teach each other, provide support for one another. Having ‘street art tours’ coming by and taking photos while we do this can be intrusive.

Femme Fierce 2016 benefitted from taking place alongside an open jam – a day where there was an even mix of men and women. We balance each other. Femme fierce and other all female jams are key in inspiring women to start painting who otherwise wouldn’t. For linking up like-minded people who want to paint together, who haven’t made those links in their own community. If Femme Fierce is to continue though, it needs to be run by artists, for artists.

Don’t be a spectator.

Hip Hop - not for spectators‘Hip Hop – not for spectators, by Pyklops and Unity, 2016’

 

Today I had a meeting with Cardiff Council. Specifically, the people who are in charge of what the city of Cardiff looks like. It was sincerely refreshing to put across my views on how the corporate world that we are immersed in definitely does not sit well with what hip-hop culture is about. We discussed learning to paint on the street and the ethos of respect and teaching one another. We also talked about commissioned pieces and the factors of money and time in creating art, and how the only way to improve is to be given the opportunity to do so, or to take that opportunity wherever you may find it. I made it very clear that without legal spots, there is no opportunity to engage with and support one another legally. The boardwalk is ideal for this as it’s central.

They aren’t happy about the tags on the posts along the boardwalk, so are going to paint over them. They’ll also put up signs so it’s more obvious how to get permission to paint there (they may stay longer than my home-made efforts…) They’re also, and this is the good news, going to sort out some money for paint for some future jams, and there was talk about commissioning something the castle end of the boardwalk, as this is the most visible part. This is where the conversation was most awkward, as I fully disagree that this commission should be ‘street art’.

I’m really hopeful that this will be the beginning of the inclusion of real hip-hop when funding for arts and culture is dished out by Cardiff Council. They are organising an arts event in October, and were keen to include something as part of that – Swn festival is on at the same time so maybe it could link in. Watch this space…

I hate getting up early, but… this was worth it. Got the 6am (blurgh) megabus down to London (only six quid!) For a super sunny paint up with Pyklops, Sofly Guisi Tomasello and Siany. Met some other lovely artists out for the sesson too – mega thanks to JXC who gave me a gift! After the tunnel session, I nipped on over to Islington for the Breakin’ Convention Park jam. What a lush community event – two female beatboxers on stage as I arrived, I headed over to the basketball court where all the dancers were getting down and funky. Caught up with some faces I haven’t seen in TIME! Soopa & Leebee hanging by the speakers (of course), Enos, Bounty and the Bath boys, Monkey and more… Kwamikazee still going strong into his forties, we headed over for some delicious curried goat & peas, before the rain came, and I caught a lift back to home sweet home with Kwam, Boost and Lady Lousha. Just in time to say night night to my own two sweet girls and bed with a smile on my face.

unity tag

I put up this ‘Trust’ piece in memory of the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough. If we can’t trust the police then what the hell are we left with?

Trust

Thanks Pyklops for the flick.

 

Over two years ago, more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. They are still missing. I put up the 179 names I could find online, in their memory. More information about the kidnapping here.

In memory of the Chibok schoolgirls still missing in Nigeria.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I felt emotionally drained after painting this. I feel so helpless.

 

Underwater Paint Jam

On Saturday 9th April, after a wet start, the sun came out! Myself, Pyklops, Sofly, Nathaniel Draws, Sega, Aver, Object, Skin, Jeesee, Defs and Tao painted underwater pieces to a soundtrack from The Hold Up, with a regular rabble of MC’s getting busy on the mic. I met some lovely little children having a family day out, fully involved in proceedings – they added to my piece, got involved in the MC cypher and generally got into the groove – the future of Hiphop is bright!

Passing PCSO’s stopped for selfies, BMX-ers hanging out, a guy on his way home from his last ever shift at Pizza Hut flying back home to India the next day super excited to have lived in such a vibrant city. All in all a satisfying community day, rounded off by a quick visit to Pryme Cuts MC event over the river and on to Gwdihw to see Harleighblu. I slept with a smile on my face…

 jellyfishevent page here