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Retrospective: Solo exhibition by Kelvin Okafor

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

I was watching the six o'clock news like I usually do, and a familiar face appeared. 'That's that Nigerian artist!' I exclaimed to my dad. 'Oooh he really made it' he responded, displaying his usual cute encouraging interest.

The BBC news reporter mentioned that he will be putting on a workshop at the Mall galleries the following day as part of his ' Retrospective' solo exhibition. 'I have to go' I told myself.

It was nearing the end of summer and I found myself in a rather fancy part of central London. The entrance was right next to a place marked 'Rochelle Canteen'.

There was a calm atmosphere and yet a lot going on. As a few people partook in the workshop, I joined a couple others in walking around the gallery. The exhibition led with some of Kelvin's early works, although this was produced at the beginning of his career, it was still of such a high standard. There was a drawing of a young girl which I found out to be named Mia. He continued to capture Mia gradually as she grew up. As she grew, Kelvin's skills developed and this was documented in what ended up to be a series.

The TV and Instagram pictures didn't do his work any justice. In person I had the opportunity to observe the detail under closer inspection. I waited 2 whole hours for the workshop to end before I had the chance to speak to Kelvin and when I did, it was worth the wait. I showed him my work, told him my aspirations and asked for advice on establishing a unique style etc. He offered me some tips and briefly explained how he began his art career along with the reasons why he decided to do so. I am a similar age now to he was when he began and this was the moment I made the decision to invest in myself and take my career as an artist seriously.

As soon as I got home I went straight to my drawing board.

- Rochelle Ayele

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