THE LIFE OF A QUEER, BLACK, FEMALE ARTIST


AN ARTIST BORN & RAISED IN LONDON

This is Naya Aka-Kwarm, 20 year old artist, born and raised in North London. She is currently working as a bartender part-time,  also a poet and a film maker with her brother.

Where are you based in London, describe your environment? 

Well where I grew up was pretty rough. It didn’t feel rough but reminiscing on it, and seeing it as it is now, it was, still kind of definitely rough. Although I still reside in North London, I spend most of my time East where things feel a lot different. Definitely a lot more diverse that is for sure.

Explain the life of a young adult in London, how do you feel life is for you? 

I mean as expensive as London is, it is never going to be that easy for someone that is young and working class. In this moment, I think I am having a blast being so young because everything feels like it is for me. I am discovering so many new things about London right now and it is cool!

Being a Black young adult in London, how do you feel life treats you? 

I think I am always being reminded of that. That’s something I dislike about this life. Despite feeling like every opportunity is directed towards me as a young adult, it feels like someone’s still whispering in my ear that it is not for me, because I’m black. I’ve never felt that this world was made with me in mind, a lot of the time I do not even think about my skin colour but there is always something that someone will say/or act that’ll be a reminder.

In the LGBTQ+ world and being a queer, is it difficult to be so in London? 

I don’t think I can speak much on the queer experience, because although I have had some hardships, I think the community that I have surrounded myself with have been supportive and open minded. Enough that it has been few and far between. I am seeing more LGBTQ+ conscious bars and a lot of exhibitions and talks dedicated to this conversation, which I find awesome. I think that is comforting thought that there are many places opening opportunities for us even if we may not necessarily go.

As an artist, do you feel London provides enough for your creativity? Especially for your age range. 

I have mentioned before, I feel like every opportunity is being pointed in my direction. I mean London is where it’s at. I think there are a great number of places to discover, meet new people and collaborate. I suppose the only downside is, everything costs money that as a young adult may not come so easy to you. But I would not want to to be in any other city in the United Kingdom, to express my creativity.

shot by @an_id_

How would you describe your artistic work? 

My work is a compilation of poetry about my sexual experiences, or as an ode to someone who has inspired my poem. As well as the female black  experience and my experience with a mental illness. I’d say my poetry is mainly free form and experimental. Just a bunch of words that think, look and sound good together basically.

What’s your favourite artistic piece? And proudest creative achievement? 

My favourite piece, . . . That is a hard one. Well actually I am not ready for anyone to read it yet, but it is the first piece I wrote about myself.  Whilst I was going through depression. It is sad, and it still hurts to read but it’s the first time I’ve been incredibly honest about how I feel.
I think my proudest achievement is putting my poetry on instagram. It’s been a long time coming, but now I have set the ball rolling everything else will follow.

What are your feelings on today’s art world and written world? In comparison to the past. 

I’m seeing a lot of encouragement on raw self-expression. To not just follow the mould but to embrace your difference. For example Basquiat, who was a young artist. His drawings could be likened to a child’s and I remember in school there  would always be a ‘right’ way to draw or to write. So I think now we’re investing time in reminding people that there’s not really a right way, it’s just how you feel best to express yourself.

Young artists from London that influence you? 

Mira Gonzales, is a fantastic poet. Seeing her books on shelves gives me confidence, because hers reflect the similar off the cuff experimentation that I have.
Poppy Ajudhais a musician I am really inspired by. Her songs are nicely feminist and thought provoking. I think it is important to advocate for current issues you feel strongly about. At least be able to be open a discussion about it.
shot by @ch_ose

What’s going to be your next movement in your work? 

My next movement of work will be a compilation of poetry about sex and the body, and the female experience. I think I want to focus a lot more on visuals. To accompany the poetry because I’d really like to set up an exhibition.

In terms of your creative future, what do you think it holds? 

I think my attention span is so short, that I’ll move from project to project. Hopefully my creative future is filled with a whole bunch of different things.

Do you find a success in art, exclude the matter of fame and wealth, do you believe one can succeed purely from being who you are and do what you do? 

For sure. I think a lot of the time your creative outlets begins as a hobby or expressive outlet before a decided career. Even if I didn’t turn my writing or film into making a career, for myself I don’t think I could just stop. It says more about myself than I ever could, so it must remain.

 


 

Links to Naya’s Work

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