Lambeth Council is proud to welcome artist Linett Kamala into residence as part of its Town Hall Art Programme.
Over the Autumn, Kamala is developing artworks in response to the activism of Olive Morris and in particular to her interest in young people and education. As Kamala’s residency unfolds, artworks will emerge in the Town Hall foyer space, each exploring what Morris’ activism might look like if she was alive today.
Cllr Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Linett to Lambeth Town Hall which is open to the public, so all our residents can experience her fascinating, insightful and thought-provoking work.
“Olive Morris was an important community activist in our borough and this council is keen to with both Linett and the wider community in celebrating her legacy.”
Kamala, who was born in London to Jamaican parents, is an interdisciplinary artist who progressed to the top of the education profession in an executive position for a multi-academy trust while also working as a creative.
Kamala’s residency begins with the exhibition of Courage and Resilience. The works, made for Voices from the Front Line, a group show at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning Gallery in 2018, are inspired by the political and social history of Railton Road, Brixton, home to the Caribbean community in the post Windrush period, and where 198 Gallery is located.
Olive Morris, an inspirational community activist who died prematurely in 1979 at the age of 27, played a significant role in the Railton Road community campaigning on social justice issues including housing and education.
Morris spoke up fearlessly and was passionate about empowering others to bring about positive change. She was a member of the British Black Panthers, and co-founder of OWAAD (Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent) and the Brixton Black Women’s Group.
To counteract widespread discrimination prevalent in the English education system during the 1970s, Morris joined forces with others to volunteer at the Abeng Centre which provided supplementary school and youth services for young people in the heart of Brixton.
Kamala is working on examining what form Olive Morris’s educational activism would take is she were alive today.
She said: “My paintings Courage and Resilience respond to this question by picking up and profiling some of the pressing issues young people face in relation to their mental health and wellbeing. My mainly monochrome paintings and sculptures merge collage with expressive hand script as ‘freestyle calligraffiti’.
“They draw inspiration from oral histories, literature, academic papers and abstract expressionism.”
Kamala uses art in a therapeutic way to make sense of her own journey as a school leader and to encourage others, recognising the challenges of needing to handle well, issues including discrimination, trauma, violence and the loss of life.
A typical week would involve painting in her studio, work on a variety of art-ed assignments and running her own leadership programme for teachers. This mixture is essential to her creativity and ensures her work has continuing public relevance.