The Art Behind the Mask
Oliver stepped back from his usual arts discipline as a producer, rapper and songwriter to facilitate and direct a short documentary. This film showcases outstanding talent from local visual and performing artists, exploring the work they have created during lockdown.
With over 17 years experience in music facilitation, Oliver has worked with a vast array of people and delivered many community projects that have had a direct impact on individuals and groups within the Kent /London area.
Music and song writing can be used as a vehicle to develop confidence, explore imagination, explore one’s identity and life choices and ultimately aid in realising dreams and aspirations.
Song writing is a doorway to help people reflect and find solutions to everyday challenges and it is fun which is beneficial to health and the mental wellbeing for all involved. Oliver fully understands the impact that music has in uniting people. With first-hand experience, he has seen directly how music and song composition builds communities and forms strong relationships between people.
“From a grass roots perspective, music participation improves the wellbeing of its participants. This positivity in turn has an impact on us all and our wider community."
Mimi has a unique sound with a vintage charm that channels her influences of jazz and soul. Her distinctive melodies and clear lyrical content keep the listener mesmerised.
Her sound is earthy, with stripped-backed acoustic accompaniment, allowing space for her powerful voice. She often plays with a band that extracts elements of gypsy jazz, swing and a tint of modern RnB. Based in Kent, Mimi is a gifted songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Here is a live performance of her song entitled ‘Reaching Down’.
CaGeNation are a collective of young, versatile artists from Medway, Kent.
The diversity in their sound is mirrored by their member’s varied cultural and ethic backgrounds.
They are influenced by the poetic styles of Nas and Eminem, group dynamism of Wu- Tang Clan and Odd Future, the production/instrumentation of the The Neptunes and Kanye West and the vocal abilities of Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, and D'Angelo.
CaGeNation are able to switch from a mellow, R&B sound straight into a raw combination of old school and new school hip-hop.
Lucky has worked as a professional singer, dancer, choreographer and arts lobbyist for more than 20 years. As one of the core, founder members of Black Umfolosi – an internationally-acclaimed Zimbabwean song and dance group.
He has performed to audiences from 10 to 50,000 people world-wide, shared stages with the likes of Jimmy Cliff and Peter Gabriel, performing to Nelson Mandela and has appeared on programmes such as The Jools Holland Show and BBC's Blue Peter.
An accomplished workshop leader, Lucky's hugely popular workshops are conducted with a communal and 'feel free to experiment' approach, his methods highlighting how much participants can achieve, both on an individual and group level. His flexible approach to learning has made him an ideal workshop leader not just in schools, but also in community centres, arts-based training, at conferences and general public workshops.
Nemi is a visual and musical artist originally from Canterbury, Kent UK. A gifted graffiti artist, vocalist, poet and singer-songwriter, she plays guitar as well as illustrating/painting canvases.
Creative since a young age, Nemi was born into into a family of mixed ancestry and has experienced a transient upbringing which spanned continents. She continues her artistic journey, currently based in the South East of the UK.
Nemi studied Art & Design at UCA Canterbury and has a BA in Design from Goldsmiths, University of London. She enjoys her work as a carer, which in turn supports her artistic projects, social enterprises and fundraising work. Heavily inspired by her non-verbal autistic brother and influenced by the underground sound system culture of the UK, Nemi explores ancient civilisations, spirituality and allegory in her graffiti artworks. In her acoustic music, she incorporates diverse styles such as retro-soul, gypsy jazz, reggae and trip-hop.
Nemi is driven by humanitarian goals, wealth inequality and all things a part of the much-needed evolutionary change of humanity, which is reflected in her works.
I came here to learn.
I'm always in a constant state of learning,
because I think that's the most important method of being.
I think the process is wrestling with internal desire and external expectation.
Trying to understand what is actually going on.
Trying to exist in a world,
while fulfilling everyone else's expectations of me,
and still getting what I want out of it.
What is your truth versus what is imposed on you?
These education establishments that I've been a part of, or was indoctrinated into;
They're not there to actually build you as an individual.
They're there to create and perpetuate the system.
Safety is an aspiration.
We aspire to be comfortable, or to have contentedness.
We're constantly navigating this idea of other and of comfort and how we can exist in a space without being harmful to others.
Without feeling harm ourselves actually is more important, because we don't actually consider the harm that we do to others.
We are more interested in self preservation.
I'm human, maybe I can't actually fit into this expectation that you have.
Ultimately I don't think I care about what anyone thinks about what I think,
I've kind of had to discern whether the feedback you're getting is objective or subjective.
I think sometimes it is really important to look at the intention behind the words that have been delivered to me.
Because I know for a fact that curators, for example, may look at the work I do,
and go through and go where can I place you?
Just because you're older than me does not mean you're wiser than me,
Doesn't mean that you have been able to actually consider what you're saying,
or question what you're saying,
or what you've learned.
Elders, they're always there,
Usually the ones who are working harder than everyone to very, very little applause.
And then it's those hardest workers in those pillars of the community, let's focus on them.
Let's give them time, space, and, most importantly, money to do their work.
think giving myself permission was asking that question of;
What do I really care about?
What am I good at?
What does the world need?
It's moderation, simplicity and consciousness in everything that you do.
What you love, what you're good at, what you can be paid for, what the world needs.
If I'm going to exist in the world, how can I give more than I take?
That's not necessarily in resource.
Maybe that's an energy,
Maybe that's in knowledge,
Maybe that's in connections or bringing people together
Or actually maybe just being an agitator, maybe?
I don't know.
Sometimes I just think I'm an agitator
Coming back to the roundtable, and community and coming together and doing the work.
And the more I think about it, the more it's about the texts.
It's like you start with the text,
You start with the learned, written, oral experiences,
You have to start with the unfiltered or I mean, I guess it's filtered.
But you need to start with someone else's experience.
And then if you can,
You should start asking yourself these questions.
it's more important for you to just go away and wrestle with it yourself.
Almost offering that opportunity to question your reality.
I think we all need these questions.
Whenever you've been reading something or you've walked down the street and something catches your eye,
Whatever these small things of connection are.
The first port of call was in writing it down.
And they had these moments of connection,
I think I slowly collate them.
I save them until something like a big enough bubble comes up.
There's a heightened sense of awareness when you call something art.
And when you put yourself in that art context, and you start to judge things in that way.
And I think because of that,
Everyone wants to have a certain truth within what they say.
They want to,
Whether it's their truth, or what they see as truth.
There are obviously exceptions where we're projecting based on our part,
from where our mental spaces are.
I think that's another another side to it.