October is Black History Month in the UK. Inspired by this year’s campaign slogan ‘Proud To Be’, we’ve been reflecting on how we are proud to be a part of a global community of artists. And in particular, how Black artists positively contribute to our community by creating art that engages with their own history and experiences.
Throughout the month, we will be spotlighting the voices of six Black artists from the UK and beyond, exploring their achievements, inspirations and how they are making their own piece of history by creating art.
To kick-off Black History Month UK, we speak to Mikéla Henry-Lowe, long-time Artfinder artist and portraiture pro. She has recently been commissioned by English Heritage to create a series of portraits depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora. You can read more about Mikéla’s commission with English Heritage here.
Tell us about yourself.
I'm Mikéla Henry-Lowe and I'm a mixed media portrait artist. The main theme of my work is the representation of black women as well the exploration and experimentation of textures and patterns.
Describe your art in three words.
Patterned, vibrant and beautiful.
What inspires you as an artist?
Seeing black women expressing themselves on social platforms and in real life and being their authentic selves. The bold and beautiful patterns that scream black culture.
Who's an artist you admire?
Tim Okamura - his portrayal of black women is amazing and powerful, and he motivates me to want to paint at that level. His realism skills just surprises me every time he posts new work.
Have you faced any challenges through the course of your career?
Yes I have, but I've learnt that nothing lasts forever and that I must enjoy every stage I go through. The path of being an artist is not easy, we wear many hats. For example, I need to be good on social media, have an understanding of business in terms of running a website etc.
Do you have a message for readers regarding the UK’s Black History Month?
I feel like when people think of Black History Month, it's to only focus on slavery and I would love if the focus was also on the other aspects of what black people have brought and are doing in the UK. Support black creatives all year round and not because of a special occasion i.e. BLM.
Cover image via Mikéla Henry-Lowe