In this episode of The Decorating Dissidence Podcast, Dr Lottie Whalen speaks with British Ghanaian artist Enam Gbewonyo about the transitions in her life along her ongoing journey to finding her sense of self that have led her from textile design, to fashion, to becoming an artist and discovering performance as a new way for audiences to engage with her work. This inspiring and insightful conversation around Gbewonyo’s artistic practice, her passion for making, founding the Black British Female Artists Collective, the power of representation alongside spaces of healing and care, and her hopes for the future after a tumultuous year is certainly one not to miss.
“In craft, when you’re making and you make a mistake, you learn from that… There’s something so beautiful about that process that is linked to life lessons.”Enam Gbewonyo
Bio: Enam Gbewonyo (b.1980, London) studied BA European Textile Design at Bradford School of Art and Design. She then embarked on a six year career in knitwear design in New York but following redundancy, returned to the UK where her life as an artist began. Gbewonyo’s practice investigates identity, womanhood, and humanity through the mediums of textiles and performance. She also promotes the healing benefits of handcraft, using processes like embroidery, knit, weave, print and wirework. Gbewonyo has exhibited with galleries and institutions such as; Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MECA, Saatchi Gallery, Carl Freedman Gallery, Tafeta Gallery, Bonhams, Gallery 46 Whitechapel, New Ashgate Gallery, Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery and Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair, Toronto. She has delivered performances for Two Temple Place, Christie’s, Henry Moore Institute, at the 58th edition of Venice Biennale’s opening week, as part of the 2020 public programme for 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Marrakech and most recently a livestream performance activating Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s exhibition, Fly in League with the Night for Tate Britain. Her collaborative commissioned artwork exploring empire, slavery, colonisation and the tea trade is currently on view at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Passionate about elevating black women artists, Gbewonyo is also a curator as well as the founder of the Black British Female Artist (BBFA) Collective. The Collective serves as a platform to support emerging black women artists build sustainable careers whilst working to advocate for more inclusivity in the British arts landscape. Gbewonyo is also a writer and public speaker. She has delivered talks with the likes of St. Andrews University (2021), British High Commission Nigeria (2019), Goldsmiths University (2019), Leeds University (2018), adidas USA (2018), Oxford University (2018), UAL London College ofFashion (2017/18) and Kuenyehia Art Prize, Ghana (2017). Her thought pieces can be found in international art publication, ‘Something We Africans Got’.
This Podcast series was produced by Decorating Dissidence with support from Queen Mary University of London Centre for Public Engagement. Leo Garbutt is our sound editor and music producer.