This month, we sat with curator and educator, Bolanle Tajudeen. Known for promoting artists from under-represented groups within the art world, Bolanle launched Black Blossoms in 2015, which seeks to highlight emerging Black Women and non-binary individuals within the art world.
What was your upbringing like and how has it affected your career?
I grew up in Ladbroke Grove. It is a very multicultural area surrounded by brutalist architecture and two thriving markets: the famous Portobello Road Market and Golborne Market. I lived with my mum on a council estate that the council knocked down a few years ago, but this is the first place I was submerged with art and design. My neighbours had different decor that incorporated their cultural heritage. My Morrocan neighbours had the most beautiful rugs and tapestry and my Caribbean neighbours had items in their homes that celebrated their home island. I guess the effect this has had on my career is that I appreciate art and style regardless of where it is.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
My childhood friend and I used to go through the NEXT catalogue and cut out pictures of all women wearing suits, who looked like they commanded power with just their attire, so I grew up wanting a corporate job. I did Law at A-Level and went to The University of Leeds and did one year of a Politics degree. I missed London so I came back and went to the University of the Arts London and got myself a degree in Public Relations.
What’s the inspiration behind Black Blossoms? Tell us a little more about it.
Although I was studying PR at university I was really inspired by the creative practices of peers on other courses. I loved seeing creative ideas come into fruition and going into my friends studios and exhibitions. However I found that there was a lack of spotlight on Black creatives in uni and the wider creative and art world. I wanted to create a space for Black women artists to discuss their work with each other whilst also showcasing the wider public their talents. You can read more here about how it started; The Black Blossoms That Were Never Forgotten.
the black blossoms statement
Black Women are speaking up.
Black Women are no longer invisible.
Black Women are not afraid to shine.
Black Women are unapologetically loving themselves.
Black Women are championing their sisters.
Black Women are tearing down the oppressive racist and patriarchal system which enforced upon them.
Who’s your role model?
My mum, she is an angel. She works as a nurse, and I have so much love and respect for people who care for the sick and vulnerable even when their lives are at risk. It is a different kind of humility.
Greatest source of inspiration?
Black people and their resilience.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Launching the Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture.
What draws you to an artist?
If they are making artwork that resonates with my visual style and politics.
What are three main things you look for in a piece of art?
If there was one thing you could change about the art world for the better what would it be?
I recently read a brilliant critique of the artworld by Morgan Quantaince. In parts he sums my thoughts about the artworld and how we can all make better choices in how we partner with corporate and political institutions.