A few weeks back saw the conclusion of Street Artist Dreph’s ‘You Are Enough’ series of portraits looking at the idea of female empowerment through his subjects, all of which are people he knows or has met. So we though we would take a look at the ten works that comprise the impressive series, nine of which can still be seen in all their glory about town and are all worth hunting down if you haven’t already seen this series of works while you can should you be London based or bound.
It is only fair to say that Dreph has truly made an impact on London’s Street Art scene this year with this series of works, taking the place by storm with his powerful subjects and striking portraiture, all with an inspiring story to tell. It is impressive to see the attention this artist has received with these works, which not only have something to say but are so well depicted, with his style becoming more honed and defined even as the series has progressed, with each work seemingly better aesthetically than the last.
Dreph has most kindly allowed to use his stories pertaining to the subject in each of his paintings as we feel it is best to let the artist speak for himself with this excellent body of works that make ‘You Are Enough’.
Work in Star Yard, Brick Lane, depicting Nana Yaa Sakyibea – subject number 1 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“Nana Yaa Sakyibea commonly known as Mary, is a fashion and furniture designer from Tema and now based in Busua in the Western Region of Ghana. She makes beautiful clothes with a keen eye for detail, and says her work is not motivated by financial gain but simply to make people happy in the smallest possible way when they wear her clothes. She wants people to feel ‘at home’ in her clothes and thrives on “seeing peoples self esteem shoot from 10 to 100, based on what they are wearing “. Nana Yaa is an all round lover of the arts and wears many hats. She has managed RockstonesOffice nighclub, worked as a bouncer, run a modeling agency, managed events and worked as a PA for pidgenmusic. Where many on the continent aspire to migrate to Europe and the US as the way to ‘make it’, Nana Yaa takes the converse view maintaining that with the right mindset, you can “stay in the village in Africa and buy a home in Mayfair if you want to” … I was inspired by her passion to build and invest where she is.”
Work in Park Street, Croydon, depicting Mel Butcher – subject number 2 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“I initially met Mel at a cultural event in the mid 90’s through a mutual friend and had been out of touch before recently reconnecting. Previously working in PR, she now works as an office manager in the gaming industry as well as raising two teenage children. She’s a humble woman who is very much a connector of people, always promoting and supporting businesses and initiatives in her community whilst never seeking the spotlight for herself. She is a beautiful soul who’s spirit lights up any room.”
Night-view of work by Dreph in Croydon.
Work in Commercial Street, Spitalfields, depicting Holly Oluwo – subject number 3 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“I met Holly briefly some months ago whilst painting on Shoreditch High Street and even with our brief encounter was stuck by her openness and warm spirit. Holly was born and bred in East London, and at the age of 24 her wisdom is beyond her years, in part due to the time she spent working in a care home. She says her time there taught her that ‘Things’ and outer beauty eventually fade. We are left mostly with only our memories, and when we pass, hopefully the legacy of the love we put in the world ”. As a survivor of a sexual assault and domestic violence, I’m inspired by her strength in facing her demons, using her art and spoken word to advocate healing, self-acceptance and empowerment.”
Dreph at work in Penge.
Dreph at work in Penge.
Work in Southey Street, Penge, depicting Mimi Fresh – subject number 4 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“Mimi is my GF’s BFF (and my dance partner). Mimi Is actually the first person I approached for this series and one of the last I am painting; this should tell you something about her complex character. She is an influencer who is reputed for turning heads and rocking the ‘Afropunk’ style before it became popular. When I first met Mimi, what struck me was her youthful energy, free spirit and outlandish style. She is a rolling stone that has worn many hats including, styling, dj’ing, dancing, jewelry design and holistic therapy. Today Mimi works as a holistic health consultant whist studying psychosocial studies and vibrational medicine at Goldsmiths with the view to becoming a counsellor. She also works as Erykah Badu’s European PA and will be on the road with her this summer.”
Work in High Road, Bruce Grove, depicting Fungai – subject number 5 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“Fungai was born in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK in 2007, following her adoption by her sister and brother-in-law after the tragic loss of their mother in 2000. She is the last born of 6 children from a blended family. She received her fine art degree from Havering College where she now works as a printmaking technician, she also works at Art Fairs and facilitates community print workshops particularly, for young children. She is in an experimental phase with her art practice, focusing on being expressive through the use of different materials and looks forward to seeing where the journey takes her. Although she misses her homeland she doesn’t take for granted the position she finds herself in and dreams of opening a Print Studio back home in the future. The bronze crochet top worn by Fungai was her formerly her mothers back in the 70’s. For her it signifies strength, confidence and inner peace.”
Work in Star Yard, Brick Lane, depicting Myvanwy Evans – subject number 6 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“Myvanwy was raised in the 80’s pre-gentrification of working class Shoreditch. Incidentally she went to Uni a stones throw from where this mural was painted. She runs the cultural marketing agency Louder Than Words who engage international talent, communities and young people on high profielmedia campaigns for clients such as Tate, MTV and Mayor of London. Myvanwy was raised in a socialist family of political activists, whcich she says has influenced the focus of her work to raise the visibility of important youth and community programmes that positively impact lives. She also mentors young people, helping to steer their careers and individual life journeys. Her view is thatif everyone mentored one young person there would be dramatically loer rates of youth suicide and knife crime. What many that know Myvanwy are unaware of is that she is a trained fine artist, photgrapher and ilustrator. These passions run deep, and her vision for the future is to dedicate more time to her art practice.”
Work alongside work by Carleen De Sozer in Star Yard, Brick Lane.
Work in Fashion Street, Brick Lane, depicting Tracy Blackstock – Dreph’s sons Mother – subject number 7 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“Tracy was born and raised in Oxford and is the second youngest of 9 siblings to first generation Jamaican parents. After her studies she spent several years in Jamaica working for an NGO before returning to the UK to work for the probation service and the resettlement aftercare for young offenders. She now project manages a preventative program for children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour(s). These young people in some instances are victims of sexual abuse, exposed to inappropriate sexual behaviours. tracy managesa a group of volunteers who work with the young people to restore such behaviour/responses by develpoing social skills that engage them in their communities. In the future Tracy would like to specialise in the field of child psychotherapy with the view to supporting young people in her local community.”
Work in Wardour Street, Soho, depicting Leyla Hussein – subject number 8 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“Leyla is a psychotherapist specialising is suporting survivors of sexual abuse. She is a leading international campaigner on female genital mutilation (FGM) and her passion is to empower women and girls. Leyla founded the Dhalia Project, the UK’s first specialist therapeutic service for FGM survivors. She created the ground-breaking Face of Defiance project which is a series of photographic portraits and interviewswith FGM survivors. Her documentary “The Cruel Cut” with Channel 4 on FGM in the UK was nominated for a Bafta in 2014. She successfully lobbied at a political level and her e-petition ‘Stop FGM in the UK Now’ gathered over a million signatures, triggering a debate in Parliament on FGM in the UK. As a writer, Leyla has been published in national media and she regularly appears in both print and broadcast as an expert commentator. Leyla was named Cosmopolitan Campaigner of the Year 2010 and she was included in the BBC 100 Women List in 2013, Women’s Hour Power List 2014 and Debrette 500 as one of the UK’s most influential people. Leyla’s drive, passion and tenacity regarding her work is truly admirable. Regardless of the physical and emotional attacks she has received from some members of the Somali community, she is committed to her mission and says “protecting children from harm overides everything”. Creating safe spaces for survivors of violence is deeply rooted in the core values of her work as a psychotherapist and social activist. Going forward she wants to continue building safe spaces globally, particularly in the motherland.”
Work in Somerleyton Road, Brixton, depicting Linett Kamala – subject number 9 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“The 9th Subject from my ‘You Are Enough’ series is artist and educator Linett Kamala. Linett is passionate about improving the lives of others, especially young people through education and the arts. She has worked tirelessly with organisations across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors on educational assignments and creative projects, particularly with the goal of providing enriching opportunities for disadvantaged young people.
For over 26 years she has quietly influenced change within the U.K. education system helping staff and students achieve excellence in schools facing significant challenges. As a founding cohort member of The Future Leaders Headship programme in 2006 and speaker at numerous education events, she helped to shape and influence various government policies of the view that ‘every child’ is entitled to a quality education provision regardless of their background and with the right support can be helped to reach their full potential.
Her professional career in education begun in 1996 as a teacher of art and design and unusually for someone with a visual arts background in education, she became an education director for a multi-academy trust which at the time had over 5,000 children across its schools. Linett has gone on to train, mentor and inspire hundreds of head teachers, including many black and asian school leaders into their first senior leadership roles and headships.
In 2008 whilst working as a senior leader in a challenging school, Linett was diagnosed with depression. Through the support of her family, loved ones and health professionals she was able to return to the profession. However, she has kept her condition hidden for fear of being stigmatised by those within her profession. This is despite her being an advocate on the importance of wellbeing for students and staff within the education system, particularly for those in challenging circumstances. Linett has bravely agreed to use this platform to share her struggles of not only working as a black female at the top of the education system in the U.K., but also one who lives with depression.
In 2016 after 16 years of successful senior leadership in schools, Linett made the decision to walk away from executive leadership and return to her original love of teaching art. She currently teaches Art part-time, works as an education consultant specialising in leadership and behaviour management. As a trainer, facilitator, coach and mentor she is busy educating the next generation of school leaders about the importance of wellbeing and taking a holistic approach to education.
Linett is currently training as an arts psychotherapist and recently set up her new company Lin Kam Art to enrich the lives and wellbeing of others through art, particularly adolescent girls. Her dream is to provide therapeutic and unforgettable artistic experiences to young people who love art. As a former secondary school art teacher myself I am aware that society undervalues this profession and I am awed by Linett’s resilience and dedication to supporting and nurturing young people and her colleagues.”
Work in Hanbury Street, Brick Lane, depicting Shaney Blackman – subject number 10 in the ‘You Are Enough’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“The 10th and final subject in the ‘You Are Enough’ series is Shaney Blackman. I first met Shaney in Marrakech earlier this year and we immediately connected based on our shared passion for travel. Having spent the majority of her career as a Legal Secretary in a Magic Circle Law firm, although comfortable she was not content. She felt as though she was going through the motions and says that “at some point we all have to work out what makes us happy”. So she followed her instincts, ignored the naysayers and after months of meticulous planning and rigorous saving, she finally quit her job to travel the world.
Shaney embarked on this journey 2 years ago and is still doing so, having now visited over 50 countries and countless cities. She really doesn’t see her story as anything special but she is grateful and ceasing the opportunities as they arise. One of her goals while travelling is to learn something new and give back in every location. Recently she has lived with a local family in Colombia, helping them with their English and obtain a visa to visit their family abroad. She has spent several weeks assisting a well-known spiritual healer in Bali, and lived on organic farms trading her services for knowledge and a place to stay.
I admire her outlook and courage for walking away from many of life’s luxuries and breaking societal norms. She has worked hard to afford herself this lifestyle and she plans to continue experiencing new cultures for the foreseeable future.”