It is only fair to say that Dreph truly made a huge impact on London’s Street Art scene last year year with his ‘You Are Enough’ series of portraits looking at the idea of female empowerment through his subjects, all of which were people he knows or has met. Taking the place by storm with his powerful subjects it has been fantastic to see the attention Dreph received for these excellent works, bringing his subjects stories to such a huge audience in the process.
So bring us to now and we are taking a look below at the first trio of portraits which comprise Dreph’s latest project, namely his ‘Migration’ Series through which the artist will be telling the stories of first generation migrants who have made a home in the UK, using his art as a platform to highlight and celebrate the contribution such people have made to their community and society as a whole since arriving and settling in the UK. The works below have been placed up in South, East and Central London however this project will not be exclusive to London like his last series in 2017 but will be set around major cities all across the UK with the remaining 7 murals to be painted in: Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Cardiff, Glasgow & one more to be painted in London.
The portraits below are all as we would expect fantastically painted by Dreph who truly brings his subjects to life and with each one telling an inspiring tale, of which Dreph has most kindly allowed us to use his stories pertaining to the subject in each of his paintings below as we feel it is best to let the artist speak for himself with this excellent body of works that thus far make up his ‘Migration’ series.
Work in Pope’s Road, Brixton, depicting Michael John – subject number 1 in the ‘Migration’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“The first mural from my ‘Migration’ series is of Michael John, a long standing member of the Brixton market community. Originally from Grenada Michael has been working in the community for over 2 decades. Michael arrived in the UK in August of 1986 to join his pregnant partner, and worked tirelessly to ensure economic security for his new family. This was a world away from the small island of Grenada in the south Caribbean, but like so many of the patrons and proprietors Michael has found a true place in the vibrant melting-pot that is Brixton market. Michael is an integral part of the market community and without him the market wouldn’t function. During the reopening ceremony of Electric Avenue in October 2016, he was presented with the ‘Keys to Brixton Market’ by the council. There has been a lot of change in Brixton, as there has been across the capital, in particular with many local residents angry with the gentrification of the area and recent forced evictions of traders in Brixton Arches. Michael’s presence and sense of responsibility for the community’s well being has been a constant throughout these changes and a reminder of the ‘old’ Brixton. I wanted to celebrate Michael for his commitment, generous spirit and the numerous other roles he fulfills for the many people he interacts with on a daily basis”.
You can also view this video from Dreph’s YouTube channel and made by Benjamin Wachenje on the making of this work in Brixton.
Work in Virginia Road, Shoreditch, depicting Hassan Hajjaj – subject number 2 in the ‘Migration’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“The 2nd subject from my ‘Migration’ series is the artist @hassanhajjaj_larache . Often referred to as the “Andy Warhol of Marrakech”, He is best known for his colorful photographic portraits. His celebrated works, a vibrant fusion of tradition and pop-culture, have been exhibited at the V&A, British Museum and Somerset House. Hassan was born in 1961 in Larache, a harbor town in northern Morocco. His father emigrated to England in the 60’s, so he spent his formative years with his mother, auntie, grandma and sisters. He moved to North London in 1973 aged 12 to join his father. He recalls it as being a tough time, where he was unable to speak English and was immersed in a new culture, in a time where London wasn’t as cosmopolitan as it in today. As Hassan joined the burgeoning west London immigrant community he felt very much a foreigner and many of the people he befriended were people who had had a similar journey and shared experiences of being the outsider. In this period he made a lot of friends, many from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan, and says that they stuck together and looked after one another. He went on to run a street-wear brand called R.A.P, club nights and worked as a fashion stylist. Hassan is self-taught with his work drawing from a mix of influences including London’s hip-hop and reggae scenes and his North African heritage. His interdisciplinary practice includes photography, installation, performance, fashion, film-making, sculpture, music, handcrafted objects and furniture. He often uses utilitarian objects from Morocco such as paint pots made into stools and cans turned into lamps. These days Hassan is based in London half the year, where he runs his shop Larache in Shoreditch, and spends the rest of his time in Marrakech. His work is undoubtedly a result of this clash of cultures. Larache is an Aladdin’s cave, where I am always welcomed with tea and conversations with new faces. I love that he hires local tailors and artisans to manufacture his work. If he is able to help open some doors for them and the younger generation of creatives, he is happy to, understanding that the exchange is of mutual benefit to all“.
Work in Wardour Street, Soho, depicting Fatima Najm – subject number 3 in the ‘Migration’ series, of whom Dreph states:
“The 3rd subject from the Migration Series is human rights activist Fatima Najm, founder of @creativesagainstpoverty. Fatima was born in Pakistan and raised between Karachi and Sharjah, U.A.E. She now lives in London and has spent the last 11 years supporting marginalised communities across the globe including Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, in some of the world’s most harrowing conflict, disaster or urban poverty zones. She trains NGOs working with war-ravaged communities to deal with frustrations, drawing out resentment to move towards creating a conflict-free community. When the CAP team finds themselves dealing with trauma in chaotic or dangerous environments, they use comedy, theatre, music and art to disarm the resistance they encounter. In London, Fatima sits on the education panel at the Prince’s Trust, advising the organisation on programs that inspire young people to unlock their potential. Fatima also works with grassroots NGOs to help refugees and asylum seekers acquire the skills they need to integrate into British society. Fatima writes a “living/breathing” Life Skills curriculum that helps young people examine their choices, develop critical thinking skills and make positive changes in their lives. The Cap team this unique curriculum to support a diverse cross-section of clients including: young people exposed to knife crime, ex-offenders, rough sleepers, child-labourers, children of war, girls sold into marriage or slavery and the families of honour-crime targets. In Pakistan alone, CAP’ life skills programs train 50 thousand young people to negotiate for their rights through a set of local NGO partners including @support_dil . Fatima feels privileged to work with skilled volunteers from the UK and all over the world, all of whom pour endless energy into creating meaningful change. In London, CAP work predominantly in North and East London with Fatima living round the corner from the painting in Soho”.
Migration Series Call Out
Dreph is looking for first generation immigrants of all ages to feature in 7 large scale portraits that he paint on the streets of the UK. Bring a friend, family member or colleague whose story you feel deserves to be told. The project aims to show the human face, and tell the stories of individuals from the communities that make up the UK’s diverse immigrant population.
You will also have an opportunity – if you wish – to share your story with the Migration Museum, who are hosting the event.
Free – please register in advance via Eventbrite
Sat 9 June 2018, 2pm – 6pm
The Migration Museum, The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, London, SE17AG
You can view this article in the Evening Standard about Dreph’s ‘Migration’ series, as well as this article on Global Citizen. Lastly you can view our blog post on Dreph’s ‘You Are Enough’ series (covered here).