Call For Artists: COP26 & Climate Change Initiative

This project is a collaboration between Occhi Arts and Entertainment and Phoenix FTA Limited, a UK-based sustainability strategy consultancy. Inspired by the UK Creative Earth Competition, Occhi Arts and Entertainment and Phoenix FTA Limited are inviting young artists from around the world to creatively engage with key topics of concern at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow. This initiative provides a wider audience of young artists with a renewed opportunity to visually express their views to world leaders and community stakeholders by producing 2D artwork (drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, and photography) that supports at least one of the following themes:

1. Protect What You Love

Climate Change is giving rise to more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions, and an increase in the number, duration, and intensity of tropical storms. Glaciers are shrinking, plant and animal ranges are shifting or go extinct. Humans could save thousands of species from extinction if they act. ‘Protect What You Love’ encourages participants to express their concerns, highlighting what their hold dearly and want to protect from the effects of climate change.

2. A future beyond neoliberal capitalism?

With our societies forced into a truly deranged economic paradigm, one that landed us amid a terrifying climate emergency, it’s hard to imagine that the future of our human species lies beyond the patent immorality of neoliberal capitalism. A completely new system that puts equity and justice at its core is required. Young artists are invited to creatively express their interpretation of a “post-ecopathic” economic system via the mediums of drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, and photography.

The Objective

The objective is to foster and establish an inclusive young artists’ community that feels empowered to engage with global climate change politics by using their creativity, expressing their democratic voice, and participating in this vitally important discourse. We believe the project will help build a noteworthy platform to establish intergenerational collaboration with key stakeholders by raising awareness of COP26 and serve a cross-sectional analysis that will allow deeper insights into how Generations Z and Alpha perceive the severity of climate change. It fosters political engagement, participation in the democratic process, and voices intergenerational concerns.

Submission Process

Participants will be required to submit one image (max file size: 500KB/300 dpi), a short bio (max 150 words), and a written summary of the artwork via email to submissions@occhimagazine.com

Please title your email subject ‘COP26 Art Submission’.

Each featured work remains the copyright of the participating artist who consents to work being exhibited as part of this initiative.

Early submissions (artwork submitted before 28th October 2021) will be featured on the Occhi Contemporary Art website, from 31st October 2021, to coincide with the launch of COP26.

The call for submissions will be open for the duration of COP26, which ends on Friday 12th November. A final selection of works will be featured online and in a publication, to be produced after and in response to COP26 key outcomes. The featured artists and artworks will be announced approximately two weeks after the official deadline to ensure that our guest curators and editorial team give their full attention to each applicant’s work. Further updates and additional information will be posted on occhicontemporary.art and occhimagazine.com.

Art, Artists and Inspiration!

David Emmanuel Noel: Photo Credit Gary ThomasI’ve been extremely productive with Occhi Arts and Entertainment over the last few months, launching the platform’s Contemporary Art Gallery. We’ve had the privileged of showcasing the work of several talented artists, including Pantea Mahrou, Despina Symeou, and Gary Thomas.

Pantea Mahrou began her professional career ten years ago, delving into architecture and taking a leading role in her family’s construction company. She went on to teach at the acclaimed Azad University of Tehran. From a young age, she fell in love with ancient architecture, specifically the Archimedean era, which has inspired her study into its rich history. She remains committed to uncovering its mysteries and secrets. Using spiritual symbols, and architectural influences, her work provides energy that encapsulates the rich history of Middle Eastern culture with a contemporary perspective on life.  Paying careful attention to the colors used, she provides audiences with a sense of calm and peace.

Pantea Mahrou
Pantea Mahrou

Multidisciplinary Artist Gary Thomas’ creativity and thirst for knowledge has inspired many years of study, growth, and development in the creative arts industry. He also continues to highlight major players, celebrities and document the activities of individuals in the industry, particularly with photo portraits. Gary has an archive of photographs. Over the years he has photographed many household names such as Nile Rodgers, Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, TLC, Professor Sir Magdi Habib  Yacoub, Lalah Hathaway, Dianne Reeves, Hugh Masekela, and Van Morrison. I was honoured to be included as part of this list this month, featuring the accompanying photo (Above)

Gary Thomas

Despina Symeou is a Painter-Printmaker who lives and works in London. After the study of art forms focusing on fine art, printmaking and photography, Despina specialized in Jewellery Design, gaining a B.A.Hons Degree from Middlesex University. In recent years she has returned to the two-dimensional formats that had originally fired her imagination, predominantly in etching. Her work is currently featured in Occhi Contemporary’s online exhibition ‘ Not Just For The Bedroom’ Please visit the Occhi Contemporary Website for further information on the artists, news, and forthcoming shows.

Despina Symeou

Participation in The Association of African American Museums (AAAM) 2021 Conference

The Association of African American Museums (AAAM) holds its 2021 conference this month. The event is designed to provide networking opportunities for young museum professionals, professional development, and online learning. Speaking about the event, Vedet Coleman-Robinson, Executive Director said, “Last year’s successful launch of the first virtual conference proved that despite our distance, we can still learn, grow, and network together virtually.   Historically, the AAAM conference is a family reunion of sorts for professionals of African and African American-focused museums as well as a wide array of cultural institutions.  Last year, we gathered and connected virtually and we all were safe, protected, and healthy.  We want to have that same outcome this year.”

This year,  I’m privileged to participate in a panel discussion, titled ‘Museum Pedagogy: Informing and Educating through a Parallel Delivery of Arts, Media, and Mentorship’. I’ll be joined by Kishan Munroe- a Bahamian documentarian, researcher, and interdisciplinary artist whose practice comprises painting, drawing, photography, film, installation art, and assemblages, and Alexis Alleyne-Caputo (Afro Diaries™ & Grace and Graffiti™) – anthropologist, researcher, and award-winning interdisciplinary artist. We’ll be exploring the importance of the arts and how artists may contribute to their communities whilst supporting worthwhile objectives of museums and educational institutes.

Registered participants will gain insight on a variety of topics surrounding the museum field from a range of museum professionals throughout the country with the conference and plenary sessions.  Keeping in the tradition of their conferences, AAAM will have special guests for their keynote address and evening receptions. This year’s event will again be virtual allowing registrants to be safe, empowered, and engaged while keeping safe and healthy.

The conference runs from August 4 -6th 2021. For further details, and to register for the event please visit the AAAM’s website.

Launch of Occhi Contemporary Arts

Hoping you’re all well and looking after yourselves as we continue through this unprecedented period. It’s been quite a busy period on the art front, which has resulted in me writing fewer blog entries. However, my time has been productive back in the studio and working with Occhi Arts and Entertainment colleagues on several projects.

We’ve officially launched our visual arts platform, Occhi Contemporary Arts. The platform will showcase an eclectic mix of contemporary art by artists, with an integrated program of shows, including solo and group exhibitions. The first featured artist is London-born Kerry Zacharia.I had the pleasure of interviewing Kerry a few years ago. She has lived and worked in London all her life. Her successful 2018 solo show ‘London in Different Dimensions’ is Occhi Contemporary Art’s inaugural feature,  now online for a worldwide audience to see.  As a self-taught artist, guided by her vision, instinct, and intuition, Zacharia takes viewers on a journey through familiar urban scenes of London. The artist originally presented this collection at her central London solo art exhibition near London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. The exhibition was originally hosted by The Salvation Army at their International Headquarters, within their Gallery 101 space. Kerry has been a longtime supporter of the organization, fundraising to raise awareness and money to help support its work combating homelessness and modern slavery.  In her time practicing, she has succeeded in engaging audiences with her expressive and highly individual graphic line style.

Kerry Zacharia's Landscape by Dimensions ( Ink on Paper)
Kerry Zacharia’s Landscape by Dimensions ( Ink on Paper)

Despite the lockdowns, I’m glad to have written about many creatives working on exciting projects. I’ve also caught up with many inspiring artists who, despite recent difficulties, have focused on developing their practice or collaborating with others to show the true value of the arts. This includes Acclaimed Artist and Army Veteran Darrell Urban Black and the award-winning painter O Yemi Tubi. 

Please visit the Occhi Magazine and our new site Occhi Contemporary Arts for more info.

In The Company of Inspiring Artists

This year appears to be going at speed! We’re now entering March and, before we know it, the spring will be upon us.  As the pandemic and lockdown continue, I have kept busy and occupied with a few projects and writing for Occhi Magazine. I’m sure you’d agree it’s very important to keep inspired whilst inspiring others.

I’ve had the enormous pleasure of speaking to a number of talented individuals in film & TV, music, and visual arts since my last entry. This includes LA-based  German composer, Thomas Eggensberger, Blues musician Robert Hokum, and emergent photographer Paul Fletcher.

German composer, orchestrator, and songwriter Thomas Eggensberger perfectly illustrates what it means to be a very talented artist who feeds on the opportunity to collaborate on new and exciting projects that challenge his creative boundaries. He has collaborated with a broad spectrum of creative artists in the  US, UK, and Germany, composing for film, television, and games, as well as concert music and collaborative art. Now based in Los Angeles, California, he is co-founder of the composer collective and sample library builders ‘Green Light District’.  We had the opportunity to discuss his career, Green Light District, and much more! Check out the full interview here.

The pleasure of being part of Occhi is meeting the many talented individuals who show commitment to the arts beyond their personal gains or commercial success. One person who should not go unrecognized is Robert Hokum. Robert has a rich history of showcasing artists and promoting the London Borough of Ealing as a creative hub. He has been on the British blues scene for some 50 years. His accolades and accomplishments include being a Director of the much-needed Ealing Club Community Interest Company, which seeks to build on Ealing’s iconic music heritage. He is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Ealing Blues Festival, which, since it was established in 1987, remains London’s longest-running Blues festival. He was also a founding committee member of The Hanwell Hootie, which has become one of London’s biggest free music festivals. With pleasure, I had the opportunity to catch up with Robert. This is the first of Occhi’s special series of Ealing Club Eclectic Interviews and streamed sessions with artists living or working in the London borough. Check out the full interview here.

Paul Fletcher is an emergent photographer worth keeping an eye on.  I had the pleasure of working with Paul in the construction sector over several years and, a few years ago, interviewed him for this blog on what was then his growing interest in photography. Influenced by his career in architecture, and interest in innovation, his emergent practice is driven by a voracious curiosity in people and how societies operate. Fully awoken through battles with mental health, and now the global coronavirus pandemic, his arresting work instinctively captures meaning whilst provoking interest in each theme explored.  He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Schumacher Institute, and now a patron of The Photographers’ Gallery in London. It was a great pleasure to catch up with him to discuss life during COVID-19, the trajectory of his practice, and more! Check out the full interview here.

As February comes to a close, I wish you and yours a great weekend and a safe and prosperous month ahead!