Bekke Popoola who defines herself as ‘almost British, almost Nigerian’, is a graphic artist, born-and-raised in a forever changing Hackney, East London.

“I didn’t choose graphic design; graphic design chose me.” After studying fashion in secondary school, she picked up a keen interest in illustration. She went on to study Art and design in college, and her journey as a graphic artist went into fruition. “I’ve always been aware of how important branding and graphic design is – knowing the history of graphics and how essential it is to create awareness and connections with others.”_mg_2993


Her art allows her to explore, fail, critique; and simply be expressive in any way possible. As she embarks on her first exhibition with her fellow artists, Olivia Mathurin-Essandoh and Kariima Ali, she’s been able to create a space for progressive discussion, enlightenment and empowerment.

“This is probably the biggest achievement of my life so far, I knew this kind of event was needed, but demand has blown me away.” With over 700 people demanding tickets for the exhibition, the tickets were sold out within a few weeks. “The demand for this exhibition has exceeded my expectation, I’ve had mothers and young girls messaging me wanting to get involved in any way possible.”

_mg_2972“I feel nervous when I put out my work as a lot of time, emotion and money go into it. My work is a piece of me – as an artist, you can become defensive over your art.”

“A close friend of mine said to me that we internalise our environments – sometimes I feel that certain environments are hostile and we tend to gravitate towards places that make us feel comfortable.” Her exhibition is an open place to explore the idea of what it’s like to be a Black British female in the United Kingdom. “I have my idea of what it’s like, and this is an opportunity for others like myself to express what it means to them.”

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“I wish I could tell my younger self that she’s amazing and wonderful, and she’s not stupid for thinking the stuff that has got me to where I am today.” Self-doubt is something we may all have in common. It’s important to realise that we should not let it halt us from facing the truth of situations and achieving goals. Having no regrets is a philosophy Bekke lives by, “each encounter and situation is an opportunity to learn; especially from mistakes.”

 

“I let things happen naturally – it’s all about improvement and growth. The person I was three years ago is not the way I am now, and how I am now is not going to be the same in the next five years. I don’t see competitiveness as motivation; I see it as a tool to police oneself. In what ways are you competing? Whose gaze are you doing it for?”

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Bekke has a provocative view on competitiveness and has completely changed my perception of it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who associates competitiveness with aggression, winning and beating opponents – which all involve the performance of others, but how does that affect your psyche?
Feeling like you’re not good enough in comparison to somebody else can be harmful to your wellbeing. Having personal goals is important but when you’re in competition with others, you can take your eyes off the prize, lose focus and confidence; then become susceptible to feelings of unworthiness. If your goal is to be the best artist you can possibly be, you can learn from others, see what techniques they use, travel, and experience the world to develop your craft.
Their art exhibition has allowed her to explore and confront many social issues, and we’re really intrigued to see what the exhibition will open our minds to. The private viewing on the 24th July 2015 is sold out, which will feature poetry, a screening by Cecile Emeke, and sounds by Pepper Coast. Not to worry, we’ll be sure to give you a well-rounded review of the event, plus, you’ll have the opportunity to view the exhibition between the 27th – 31st July at the Centre for Better Health.

View the image below for more information.

Subject – Bekke Popoola, graphic artist
Photographed &
Written by – Kofi Dwaah

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