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

As the Femme Fierce event planned for International Women’s Day 2016 was postponed, I decided that Cardiff was ready for a paint jam to mark the day. I invited artists from around the UK to come and paint the 340ft wall along the Millenium Boardwalk, and they came… 29 artists from Cardiff, Bristol, London, Brighton and Kent. Event page here.

The theme was Care/Nature, with a soundtrack from The Hold Up

I spent way more time talking than painting, but here’s my finished piece (thanks to DiffGraff for the image).

bend over backwards tree

 

The event seemed to inspire, thrill and educate the general public, and my aim was to begin discussions as to why there are so many males representing in the hiphop community compared to females. As expected, the work has already begun to disappear under new pieces, so I’ll be inviting artists back to paint again on 9th April. This time the theme will be ‘underwater’…

Coverage of the event in pictures and words from

DiffGraff,

DiffGraff (part2!),

Wales Online

Craig Kirkwood

Cardiffian.

And an interview with me by Made In Cardiff TV here. (at 6.15)

^^Thanks Y’all! ^^

 

I began work last week on putting a tree at each of the ten wards in the new Adult Mental Health Unit at Llandough Hospital. The building itself is called simply Hafan Y Coed (Haven of trees), and is based around this theme, with pieces of art throughout, inspired by nature. Even the cladding on the outside of the building looks like bark.

As there’s no signage yet I did get extremely lost at one point, but thoroughly enjoyed doing the first two trees – although I did keep expecting somebody to tap me on the shoulder and tell me off…

Look forward to continuing next week. Once it’s up and running, patients will be asked to put a thought or poem onto a leaf to stick onto these trees, and so they’ll continue to grow long after I say goodbye to them. I likey.

tree1 tree2

 

Well. Social media eh? In London eh? IT’s flippin’ everywhere! Haha. Here’s our piece from the weekend, and some of the coverage the jam got…

Articles and sound piece by Bethany Connor HERE

Diff Graff Blog HERE

Inspiring City piece HERE

Unity and Pyklops, Shoreditch, London. Blackall Street Female Paint Jam

Unity and Pyklops, Shoreditch, London. Blackall Street Female Paint Jam

Looking forward to a paint in Sunny Shoreditch with my Femme Fierce ladies Pyklops, Mutiny, Mondi, Guisi Tomasello, Georgie, and Kaleidoscope Eyes.

Find out more on the event page HERE.