last chance

Joy Labinjo: Ode to Olaudah Equiano

26 Mar 2022 – 3 Jul 2022

Regular hours

11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00

Free admission

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Wales, United Kingdom

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Joy Labinjo’s large-scale paintings depict intimate scenes of historical and contemporary life, both real and imagined.


They are often based on figures appearing in personal and archival imagery that includes family portraits, found photography and historical material. Fundamentally, at the heart of her practice is a bold interest in storytelling and ultimately, people’s lives.

Her work explores themes including identity, political voice, power, Blackness, race, history, community and family and their role in contemporary experience.  

For Chapter, Labinjo is presenting new works that are inspired by history and historical archives and foreground her desire to confront the notion that Black people arrived in Britain with the Windrush generation. 

Following on from a body of work developed in 2020 in which Labinjo looked to Sarah Forbes Bonetta (1843-1880), and other unnamed black Edwardians, she began reading David Olusoga’s ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History’ and learned of Olaudah Equiano and his memoir ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African’. This book­ – one of the first in Europe by a Black African writer ­– and the remarkable story of his life, became the starting point for this exhibition.

What struck Labinjo reading about Equiano, Ignatius Sancho, their families and the lives of other Black contemporaries in England, was how their images are largely absent from our understanding of the past. This new body of works seeks to piece together some of those missing histories: intimate portraits, domestic objects, clothing, and representations of their journeys from Africa to England, to re-present their stories in the 21st Century.

About the artist

Joy Labinjo was awarded the Woon Art Prize in 2017. Her acclaimed commission ‘5 more minutes’, for the Brixton Underground Station in London, is on view until November 2022. Recent exhibitions include: Tiwani Contemporary, Lagos, Nigeria (2022), Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech, Morocco (2021), Royal Academy, London, UK (2020), The Breeder Gallery, Athens, Greece (2020), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2019); Bloc Projects, Sheffield, UK (2019); Tiwani Contemporary, London, UK, (2018); Gallery North, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2018); Cafe Gallery Projects, London, UK (2018); Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, UK (2018); Goldtapped, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2018); Morley Gallery, London, UK (2018); Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2017); Hoxton Arches, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2017); The Holy Biscuit, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2017); FishBowl space, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2015); XL Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK (2013).

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