Citizen UK: Croydon’s Caribbean Influencers
- 4:30 pm
23 June 2023
Museum of Croydon | Free
Croydon Clocktower, Katharine Street, Croydon, CR9 1ET.
Along with the Museum of Croydon, artist Kyam and Poet Laureate Shaniqua Benjamin, we explore stories of the Caribbean community and influencers who have made an impact on the borough. In collaboration with local volunteer Citizen Researchers, we creatively focus on the lives of Croydon residents who have shaped Croydon through their Caribbean roots but are often uncredited or underrepresented using archive material, oral history, spoken word and portraits.
Inspired by the record shop and the established Caribbean tradition of sharing stories and songs, see new portraits created by artist Kyam and poetry by Croydon’s first Poet Laureate Shaniqua Benjamin, inspired by the stories of some of Croydon’s Caribbean influencers.
This new display by Abi Wright Design features archive material from the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Croydon alongside oral histories collected by local volunteer Citizen Researchers that give an insight into the lives of Croydonites including the Met’s first female Black police officer Sislin Fay Allen, professional boxers and brothers Clinton and Duke McKenzie and composer Ken Burton.
Citizen Researchers from the borough of Croydon with an interest and connection to Caribbean heritage have helped research and collect new oral histories of people bringing their Caribbean influence to their work, life and community.
Kyam (Camara Pinnock) is a graphic illustrator and visual arts facilitator from South London. Her art draws on oral history, using bold and block colours to capture the stories of Black individuals and communities through portraiture.
She is the founder of the Deep&Flow series – a community conversation using guided drawing exercises to promote QTIPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersex, People of Colour) and POC discussion and healing, hosted by The Feminist Library.
With a background in graphic design for arts charities, Kyam has designed for arts organisations such as Shoreditch Town Hall, Youth Music, Sound Connections, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Talawa Theatre Company. She was a recent trustee for The Museum of Ordinary People and is the current Digital Creator for performance charity Clod Ensemble.
Kyam is now the lead artist for the National Portrait Gallery and Museum of Croydon’s Citizen UK: Caribbean Influencers project. Follow her on Instagram
Shaniqua Benjamin is a poet, writer, creative workshop facilitator, and Croydon’s first Poet Laureate. She draws inspiration from what sets her blood, heart and soul on fire to create meaningful pieces of writing. Between 2016-2021, she ran Young People Insight CIC, a platform that empowered young people through creativity, conversation and writing, and included monthly poetry night, Poetic Insight.
Shaniqua wrote the lyrics for the London Mozart Players’ Anthem for Peace, a specially commissioned poem for the reopening of South London’s biggest arts centre, Fairfield Halls, and poems for both of Croydon’s bids for London Borough of Culture. She also wrote a poem for The Black Fund and One Young World that was shared at the 2022 One Young World Summit, read by Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Ebinehita Iyere and Shaniqua. She has been published by Ink, Sweat & Tears.
She has performed at a number of events, including the Thornton Heath Lights Festival, Field Day Festival, Trinity College Cambridge Black History Month Formal Dinner, and as part of Apples & Snakes’ immersive spoken word show, Rallying Cry. She has facilitated workshops for Spread The Word, Central St Martins, Writerz & Scribez, Total Insight Theatre and Stanley Arts. Shaniqua was also part of the organising team behind the Living in Poetry Festival in 2018 and 2019.
You can stay updated with Shaniqua’s work and activities by following her on Instagram
The exhibition is available to view until 23rd June 2023 from 11:00am – 4:00pm, Wednesdays and Fridays, at the Museum of Croydon.
Visit HERE for more information
Image credit: Siannarah Millanaise, by Kyam Arts, 2023