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Celebrating what it means to be black and British, part 1

ART: Joy Miessi

Q: Where did your interest in art begin?

Around the time my sister became a toddler, so quite young. I’d make comics and games out of paper for her and when we were a bit older and I taught her how to make stop motion animation videos.

Q: Do you come from a particularly creative family?

I hadn’t properly acknowledged it until now but I suppose my family is. We all work but in our spare time my mum and sister sew, my dad doodles and my brother takes photos.

Q: Who are some of the BME artists you admire?

I love the work by Shantell Martin, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Solange.

Q: What does it mean to be British to you?

Making small talk about the weather, meal deals and singing happy birthday in english, french then Lingala before blowing candles out.

Q: When did you begin to come to terms with your dual identity as a British and BME woman?

During university. I found my identity was often challenged and questioned because of my blackness and I was made to feel like I didn’t belong. I spent alot of time reading and learning about intersections and race and during that period of time I came to understand myself more and not doubt the fact that this is my home too.

'Central' by Joy Miessi

Q: Was there an initial struggle for you, dealing with identity as a black British woman?

Yes, sometimes it feels that we just aren’t seen, here in the UK or outside of that which leaves me feeling slightly displaced in the UK, in Congo etc.

Q: How does your artwork reflect your current social/economic beliefs?

I document my being in the current social climate, my thoughts and feelings and overall give my perspective as a black woman through type, shape and line drawings.

Check out part 2 of Celebrating what it means to be black and British, as we speak to artist Karrima Ali

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