Joy Labinjo’s large-scale paintings depict intimate scenes of historical and contemporary life, both real and imagined.
They are often based on figures appearing in personal and archival imagery that includes family portraits, found photography and historical material. Fundamentally, at the heart of her practice is a bold interest in storytelling and exploring people’s lives.
Her work explores themes including identity, political voice, power, Blackness, race, history, community and family and their role in contemporary experience.
For Chapter, Labinjo is presenting new works that are inspired by history and historical archives and foreground her desire to confront the notion that Black people arrived in Britain with the Windrush generation.
Following on from a body of work developed in 2020 in which Labinjo looked to Sarah Forbes Bonetta (1843-1880), and other unnamed black Edwardians, she began reading David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History and learned of Olaudah Equiano and his memoir The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African. This book – one of the first in Europe by a Black African writer – and the remarkable story of his life, became the starting point for this exhibition.