Artist Soyoung- Merging Literature with Art!

Artist Soyoung
Artist Soyoung

I’d like to introduce you to artist Soyoung. Soyoung was introduced to me by a mutual friend and I’ve been following her career ever since. Born in Seoul, she spent most of my childhood in Nairobi. She received a MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in Madison, WI.  Soyoung briefly explains her latest project at Madison Central Public Library where she has literally merged her literature with art!

‘ When I was six years old, my family moved from Seoul, S. Korea, to Nairobi, Kenya.  It was then that I first learned the value of creating images and connecting with people through art.  When one loses the ability to communicate with words, images become so much more important/valuable.  And while that time in my life where verbal communication was almost nonexistent was short, it left an impression on me.  As with most artists, I have been drawing and painting and making things my whole life.  My goal always is to tell stories, whether it be through writing or art.

I am always trying to figure out different ways to merge the two forms, writing and making art.  I have found that the two often inspire each other.  I have often painted something with a particular character from a story in mind.  And that usually inspires new writing.  I also incorporate writing into my work.

But my latest project involved the two forms in a slightly different way.  One day, I was thinking about recycling my stacks of manuscripts that I’d accumulated over the years.  I had just written a short piece about a memory from growing up in Kenya that involved the ritual of afternoon tea (you can find the piece on my blog:, and that inspired me to make one hundred papier-mache teacups using the pages of my manuscripts.

100 Cups of tea exhibit
100 Cups of tea exhibit

It was gratifying to be able to use the actual paper to make something new that was also inspired by my writing.  I also made a conscious effort to install the teacups in public spaces where people do not normally expect to see art.  My first installation of the teacups was in the storefront of a chocolate shop, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier.  From there, the teacups moved to a local mystery bookstore, Mystery To Me.  They are now hanging on the wall at the Madison Central Public Library. I’m not sure how the merging of writing and art will continue to evolve, but it is definitely something I love to do. ‘

Soyoung- Oct 2013

I wish her continued success with her work. For further information on Soyoung please visit her website

The Healing Presence of Art 
Evening Lecture by Richard Cork

Touching base with you all. Paintings in Hospitals, a registered charity using art and creativity to reduce sickness, anxiety and stress in UK healthcare facilities, presents an evening lecture by British art historian Dr Richard Cork. Richard Cork discusses his new publication, which takes a detailed look at the extraordinary richness of art in hospitals and its ability to alleviate clinical bleakness and leave a profound, lasting impression on patients, staff and visitors.

The event takes place at the Henry Wellcome Auditorium, 
Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE this Tuesday 19 June 2012 from 6.30 – 7.30 pm. The lecture will be
 followed by a book signing and question & answer session. The event is free but there is a suggested donation to Painting in Hospitals of £10. If you are around and interested in the therapeutic benefits of art in public places I’m sure you’ll have a good evening.

‘Kanika’s Burdens’ by Jackie Joice

Kanika’s Burdens

A dear friend of mine has published her first book entitled ‘Kanika’s Burdens’  This is a supernatural thriller that centres on a young African American woman named Kanika Witherspoon. Kanika is a successful, college-educated woman with her own home. She’s devoted to watching over her grandmother, and she is looking for love. She also bears the emotional burden of a troubled family, but she has good friends to support her.

As Kanika struggles to reconcile her own religious beliefs with those of her grandmother, she is faced with supernatural phenomena that threaten to destroy her. Is the power of suggestion over the subconscious mind influential enough to manipulate how one sees and experiences their world?  Do fear, depression, and illness create a breeding ground for demonic possession? Are evil and the devil just myths used to rationalize the sinister actions of mankind? What happens when our greatest fears are internalized?

Kanika Witherspoon is an average young, black woman living in the city of Los Angeles, who finds herself forced to answer these unusual questions.

The book is available to purchase from Amazon

Black British Film & Photography at Portobello Art Gallery

Book Cover Image: 'Top Girl' (2008) Dir: Rebecca Johnson

Last night I attended a very interesting talk and photography exhibition by Black British Filmmaker Nadia Denton. Nadia has just published her book ‘ The Black British Filmmakers Guide to Success.’  It provides encouragement and guidance for young UK based filmmakers  embarking on their careers. Primarily a resource for filmmakers, this publication includes interviews with leading directors, guidance on learning specific aspects of film theory and aids the understanding of film, genres & audiences. Nadia touched on many issues and necessities that are essential for most artist working in the creative industries; to be professional, business minded, taking opportunities to network and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders.  The publication is available to download from her website

The exhibition entitled ‘India: An African Odyssey’ is photographic documentation of her experience traveling to West Bengal and Orissa.

She explains: ‘ In 2008, I travelled to India for the second time. What struck me was that in contrast to my experiences in Delhi where I was largely recognised as a person of African Descent, in West Bengal and Orissa, the lines were blurred…

With my lens I was allowed a certain level of access that would normally be denied a western traveller. The people I met did not see me as an outsider. I was welcomed into a culture which was not my own but where I could see aspects of my identity. Though I have lived and travelled extensively in West Africa, India remains the only place where I have been surrounded by so many people who share my skin colour. The images in the exhibition are a snapshot of the glimpses I had of my African self in India.’

Nadia Denton Image Credit: Armet Francis

The exhibition runs until 14th October at  the Portobello Art Gallery  and forms part of the Westway Development Trust’s programme of events celebrating the UK’s Black History Month.  Forthcoming events at the venue include the screening of ‘Nubian Spirit” a documentary exploring ancient Sudan and Ancestral Voices, a film examining African spiritual practices.

For further information please visit

Battle to stop sale of African Centre for arts and politics

I was reminded by a friend of the present crisis facing the African Centre in London’s Covent Garden. The following article, written by Jonathan Prynne is  taken from London’s Evening Standard Newspaper. It would be extremely disappointing to see the centre close.

Historian Walter Rodney addresses an audience back in the1960s

‘ Archbishop Desmond Tutu and London Mayor  Boris Johnson today issued a plea to stop the closure of Britain’s leading African cultural centre in Covent Garden. The Africa Centre, the focal point for arts and politics for almost half a century, is due to be sold by its trustees in a “secret” deal. The Mayor and the South African  human rights campaigner and other prominent figures with African connections said they were “deeply dismayed” to hear of the decision. In a joint letter they said: “This building – now worth millions of pounds – was originally a gift from the Catholic Church: there could not be a worse time to risk losing it. “Africa is coming into its own as one of the fastest developing parts of the world. Those of us who care about the continent want to be able to say: ‘The Africa Centre was there when we were down – it must be there as we soar to the heights’.”

The centre was opened at 38 King Street in 1964 and became the focus for independence movements and the anti-apartheid campaigns. Prominent Africans who have performed or taught there include Nigerinan  novelist Ben Okri and South African playwright  AtholFugard.  A statement from the trustees said the Grade II listed building, which was once a tomato warehouse for the Covent Garden market, was no longer a viable home as it was too costly to maintain. “Too much of the funds we were raising were going into maintenance of the building and not enough on events and promotion of Africa.” As a result they had “reluctantly” decided to move to “an alternative location but remaining in the centre of London “