“Lockdown has given my daughters time to do more of what they love, cycling, playing, creating artwork, baking. We aren’t too regimented about schoolwork but they can’t just watch TV all day. They rattle through their work, and then lose themselves in hours of drawing. There’s a lot of talk about children falling behind academically, but I’m more worried about the permanent impact of lockdown, the lack of social contact.
My Nigerian parents had a strong work ethic focused on academic achievement. They taught me that I had to work twice as hard as my white counterparts in order to get a good job. We have always discussed racism with the girls, as they’ve been affected by it during their young lives. We talk about everything that has been highlighted by the death of George Floyd. We want them to grow up self confident, knowing that their skin colour is beautiful.
Like my parents, we emphasise the need to do their absolute best at whatever they do, but we encourage creative pursuits too. They both love drawing. At first our eldest mainly drew images of white people. We encouraged her to make her art more self-referential, so that she could subconsciously place herself at the centre of any narrative. Our aim is to empower them with the knowledge that their Black is beautiful. Also, by teaching them about their rich Nigerian heritage (Yoruba and Igbo), we seek to give them a truer representation of Africa. We want them to believe that they can achieve anything that they put their minds to.
I photographed the BLM protests in Central London and was moved to tears by what I saw: a diverse community supporting the cause, almost half the crowd was white; a gathering of races recognising that we’re all human. Some photographers were keen to show any outbreaks of aggression, just to make a sale. I chose to focus on truthful storytelling about this peaceful uprising.
Our girls have used a few of my protest images in their art and the results are fantastic. Lockdown has allowed them to explore their creativity and their artistic ability has gone from strength to strength.”