Dr Hari Shukla

Michael John


Michael John

Brixton, London SW9

October 2017

Dimensions: 20ft x 17ft

Originally from Grenada Michael has been working in the community for over 2 decades. Michael arrived in the UK in August of 1986 to join his pregnant partner, and worked tirelessly to ensure economic security for his new family. This was a world away from the small island of Grenada in the south Caribbean, but like so many of the patrons and proprietors Michael has found a true place in the vibrant melting-pot that is Brixton market.

Michael is an integral part of the market community and without him the market wouldn’t function. During the reopening ceremony of Electric Avenue in October 2016, he was presented with the ‘Keys to Brixton Market’ by the council. There has been a lot of change in Brixton, as there has been across the capital, in particular with many local residents angry with the gentrification of the area and recent forced evictions of traders in Brixton Arches. Michael’s presence and sense of responsibility for the community’s wellbeing has been a constant throughout these changes and a reminder of the ‘old’ Brixton. I wanted to celebrate Michael for his commitment, generous spirit and the numerous other roles he fulfils for the many people he interacts with on a daily basis.

Thanks to Caroline Hill and Brixton Design Trail for making this happen. Big up to Solo One, Ben Jay Crossman and Rocket ship digs for all their support, and the amazing people of Brixton for all the love.

Photo : Sanaa Abstrakt

Watch the work in progress video HERE


Dr Hari Shukla

 Sage Gateshead,  St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR

The 4th Subject from the Migration Series is veteran North East equality campaigner Dr Hari Shukla. Dr Shukla was Born in 1933 in Uganda, Kenya, where his father who was originally from Bombay, had moved to work on the railways. He went to school in Kampala, achieved his teacher’s certificate in Kenya, and then his Certificate of Education at Exeter University. He later returned to Kenya to teach and was then offered his first job in race relations in Scunthorpe before moving to Newcastle over 40 years ago. In Newcastle he got the job of Director of the Tyne and Wear Racial Equality Council. This was at a time when a multicultural society was regarded by many as a liability rather than as an asset.

Newcastle at this time was a city embroiled in tension between the ethnic communities and the police and the council. Dr Shukla recalls the situation as being terrible on his arrival, but that step by step change was brought about. At the root of this change was a three-point plan – to eliminate racial discrimination; promote equality of opportunity and develop good relations between the different groups.

Dr Shukla has always taken a keen interest in interfaith relationships and is involved with the coordination of a faith leaders group in Newcastle upon Tyne. He has also been involved with a number of charities, including the NSPCC and St Oswald’s Hospice, and held dozens of voluntary roles in organisations. Dr Shukla tells his stories in a recent book called in ‘The Art of Giving’. In this book he tells stories about his childhood, his work as a teacher, and his work in Newcastle. Each story with a moral touching on themes about collaboration, learning, tolerance and friendship. Some of those stories are about how he made small contributions to the lives of individuals that had long-lasting and significant impacts – others are about the roles he played in major events and initiatives, the development of race relations in Newcastle, the Peace movement, developing the understanding of organisations such as Northumbria Police, the Prison Service and both Newcastle and Gateshead Councils in how they relate to people of different religions and beliefs. Dr Shukla is a modest and unassuming man, but his commitment, determination and sacrifice for the people, organisations and communities of the North East is truly remarkable.

Thanks to #TheSageGateshead & @montana_colours for the support.

Hassan Hajjaj

Virginia Rd, Shoreditch, London E2 7NG

January 2018

The second subject from my ‘Migration’ series is the internationally acclaimed British-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj. Often referred to as the “Andy Warhol of Marrakech”, Hassan is best known for his colorful photographic portraits. His celebrated works, a vibrant fusion of tradition and pop-culture, have been exhibited at the V&A, British Museum and Somerset House.

Hassan was born in in 1961 in Larache, a harbor town in northern Morocco. His father migrated to England in the 60s, so he spent his formative years with his mother, auntie, grandma and sisters. He moved to London in 1973 aged 12 to join his father. He recalls it as being a tough time, where he was unable to speak English and was immersed in a new culture, in a time where London wasn’t as cosmopolitan as it in today.

As Hassan joined the burgeoning west London migrant community he felt very much a foreigner and many of the people he befriended were people who had had a similar journey and shared experiences of being the outsider. In this period he made a lot of friends, many from the Caribbean as well as India and Pakistan, and says that they stuck together and looked after one another. He went on to run a street wear brand called R.A.P, club nights and worked as fashion stylist.

Hassan is self-taught with his work drawing from a mix of influences including London’s hip-hop and reggae scenes and his North African heritage. His interdisciplinary practice includes photography, installation, performance, fashion, filmmaking, sculpture, music, handcrafted objects and furniture. He often uses utilitarian objects from Morocco such as paint pots made into stools and cans turned into lamps. These days Hassan is based in London half the year, where he runs his shop Larache in Shoreditch, and spends the rest of his working life in Marrakech. His work is undoubtedly a result of this clash of cultures.

Larache is like an Aladdin’s cave of all things Hassan, where I am always welcomed with tea and conversations with new faces. I love that he hires local tailors and artisans to manufacture his work. If he is able to help open some doors for local artisans and the younger generation of creatives, he is happy to do so, understanding that the exchange is of mutual benefit to all.

Photo: Daphna Stern

Watch the work in progress video HERE

Fatima Najm

155 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 8WG
The 3rd subject from the Migration Series is human rights activist Fatima Najm, founder of Creatives Against Poverty. Fatima was born in Pakistan and raised between Karachi and Sharjah, U.A.E. She now lives in London and has spent the last 11 years supporting marginalised communities across the globe including Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, in some of the world’s most harrowing conflict, disaster or urban poverty zones.

She trains Ngos working with war-ravaged communities to deal with frustrations, drawing out resentment to move towards creating a conflict-free community. When the CAP team finds themselves dealing with trauma in chaotic or dangerous environments, they use comedy, theatre, music and art to disarm the resistance they encounter.

In London, Fatima sits on the education panel at the Prince’s Trust, advising the organisation on programs that inspire young people to unlock their potential.
Fatima also works with grassroots Ngos to help refugees and asylum seekers acquire the skills they need to integrate into British society.

Fatima writes a ‘living/breathing” Life Skills curriculum that helps young people examine their choices, develop critical thinking skills and make positive changes in their lives.

The Cap team this unique curriculum to support a diverse cross-section of clients including: young people exposed to knife crime, ex-offenders, rough sleepers, child-labourers, children of war, girls sold into marriage or slavery and the families of honour-crime targets. In Pakistan alone, CAP’ life skills programs train 50 thousand young people to negotiate for their rights through a set of local Ngo partners including  DIL .

Fatima feels privileged to work with skilled volunteers from the UK and all over the world, all of whom pour endless energy into creating meaningful change. .
In London, CAP work predominantly in North and East London with Fatima living round the corner from the painting in Soho.

Thx to Montana Colors for the support.