Heather Agyepong

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Wish you were here focuses on the work of Aida Overton Walker, the celebrated African American vaudeville performer who challenged the rigid and problematic narratives of black performers. She was known as the Queen of the Cake Walk which was a dance craze that swept America & Europe in the early 1900s. During the turn of the century postcards depicting Cake Walk dancers were distributed around Europe, which were often grotesque and offensive with the allure of spectacle where the performers lacked agency. Wish you were here uses the figure of Overton Walker to re-imagine these postcards as one not of oppression but of self-care with a mandate for people of Afro-Caribbean descent to take up space. The images explore the concepts of ownership, entitlement and mental wellbeing. Each image is layered with symbolism to illicit a conversation about the boundaries of how we see ourselves both in real and imagined realities.

Wish you were here focuses on the work of Aida Overton Walker, the celebrated African American vaudeville performer who challenged the rigid and problematic narratives of black performers. She was known as the Queen of the Cake Walk which was a dance craze that swept America & Europe in the early 1900s. During the turn of the century postcards depicting Cake Walk dancers were distributed around Europe, which were often grotesque and offensive with the allure of spectacle where the performers lacked agency. Wish you were here uses the figure of Overton Walker to re-imagine these postcards as one not of oppression but of self-care with a mandate for people of Afro-Caribbean descent to take up space. The images explore the concepts of ownership, entitlement and mental wellbeing. Each image is layered with symbolism to illicit a conversation about the boundaries of how we see ourselves both in real and imagined realities.

Le Cake-Walk: Rob This England (#2), 2020, Heather Agyepong. (Commissioned by The Hyman Collection)

"On 11 July 1596, Queen Elizabeth caused an open letter to be sent to the lord mayor of London and his aldermen, and to the mayors and sheriffs of other towns in the following terms:Her Majesty understanding that several blackamoors have latel

"On 11 July 1596, Queen Elizabeth caused an open letter to be sent to the lord mayor of London and his aldermen, and to the mayors and sheriffs of other towns in the following terms:Her Majesty understanding that several blackamoors have latel

"On 11 July 1596, Queen Elizabeth caused an open letter to be sent to the lord mayor of London and his aldermen, and to the mayors and sheriffs of other towns in the following terms:Her Majesty understanding that several blackamoors have latel

"On 11 July 1596, Queen Elizabeth caused an open letter to be sent to the lord mayor of London and his aldermen, and to the mayors and sheriffs of other towns in the following terms:Her Majesty understanding that several blackamoors have latel

An estimated 75% of young people voted remain in the EU referendum. Studies indicate a strong sense of anxiety within this demographic as they look towards the future. Recent LSE research reports widespread fears and concern about rising inequality, racism, intolerance, and declining multiculturalism. As a British-Ghanaian artist who has dealt with mental health issues, I am keen to address some of these anxieties. I have found that a useful exercise in addressing an anxious, voiceless or unheard sense of self is to develop a creative platform through which to re-imagine possible healthy, constructive outcomes, promoting a positive sense of empowerment, confronting the face of political chaos. Despite their fears, the majority of young people in the LSE study were adamant that they want post-Brexit Britain to be a better place than it is now. Through this participatory photography project with workshops facilitated by artist Becky Warnock, I unpack and challenge participants’ current perspectives, and share the perspectives of marginalised communities, especially those that often feel displaced by default, struggling to identify where home truly is. Britannia, the female personification of Britain, warrior and caretaker of the sea, embodies the perspectives, values and ideals of the new Britain that the young people would like to see. Commissioned by Photoworks for Brighton Photo Biennial 2018

Britannia, the female personification of Britain, warrior and caretaker of the sea, embodies the perspectives, values and ideals of the new Britain that the young people would like to see.

Heather Agyepong

I am a visual artist, performer/actor and maker who lives and works in London. My art practice is concerned with mental health and wellbeing, activism, invisibility, the diaspora and the archive. I use both lens-based practices and performance with an aim to culminate a cathartic experience for both myself and the viewer. I adopt the technique of re-imagination to engage with communities of interest and the self as a central focus within the image.

I have worked within photographic & performance arts since 2009 with a range of works that have been published, performed and exhibited around the UK and internationally.

I have been nominated for Prix Pictet & Paul Huf Award in both 2016 & 2018. My work exists in a number of collections including Autograph ABP, Hyman Collection, New Orleans Museum of Art and Mead Art Museum.

I have been commissioned by a number of organisations including the Mayor of London, Photoworks, Artichoke & Tate Exchange.

In my television/film and theatre work, I am drawn to challenging and compelling writing with an intrigue for unique voices. I have previously been an associate artist of black led theatre company Talawa and continue to perform both nationally & internationally.

I was nominated for the South Bank Sky Arts Breakthrough Award 2018 and was recently awarded the Firecracker Photographic Grant 2020.

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