Spotlight

Feature Poet and artist Julianknxx

Championed by Foday Dumbuya
The Wick - Julianknxx, On Freedom of Movement
Above  Julianknxx, On Freedom of Movement
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The Wick - Julianknxx
Above  Julianknxx
Interview
Foday Dumbuya and Julianknxx
13 July 2022
Interview
Foday Dumbuya and Julianknxx
13 July 2022
Past collections have seen menswear designer Foday Dumbuya, founder of label Labrum London, draw on his Sierra Leonean heritage and the West African diaspora for inspiration. It’s an upbringing and inspiration he shares with poet, visual artist, filmmaker, and frequent Labrum collaborator, Julianknxx.

Foday Dumbuya says: “I met Julian about four or five years ago through a mutual friend when he came to help with my first-ever fashion show. After the show, we both had a lengthy conversation about the importance of preserving African history and how the west doesn’t deem African history as global history, and we wanted to challenge that narrative.

“I love Julian’s work because he tells stories that resonate with me, my culture and my history. I also love how he intertwines poetry, music and art to create these beautiful and emotional short films with an African narrative. He never follows the rules, he creates work that suits him and his personal narratives.”
Born in Sierra Leone and now based in London, Julianknxx’s practice draws inspiration from the stories and languages of his birthplace while exploring themes of inheritance, loss and belonging. Rich with symbolism, his work conveys our continuing need to define and redefine ourselves by rejecting labels and repositioning ourselves within new collective narratives.

His most recent film, Black Corporeal (Breathing by Numbers), is on display at Whitechapel Gallery’s The London Open until 4 September and explores the ways in which Black psyches are affected by the physical experience. This new film layers Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s account of her journey to have air pollution officially listed as the cause of death of her nine-year-old daughter, Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, with poetry, essay and scenes alluding to other experiences of Black life in London.

Julianknxx says: “I get inspiration from all over the place: my lived environment and everything that is happening around me. I go to exhibitions and watch films, but still remember to take moments of solitude and make time to read poetry from my favourite poets.

“As the saying goes, the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next. I’ve had a few big feats that I’m extremely proud of, but I still feel like I’m climbing.”

About the champion

The Wick - Foday Dumbuya

Foday Dumbuya’s desire to master the craft of design has seen him study at London College of Fashion, learn pattern cutting and work for DKNY and Nike before launching his own label, Labrum London, in 2015. Celebrating his West African and British heritage, it incorporates elements of British tailoring and West African design as well as techniques handed down generation to generation for centuries. His ambition for Labrum is to push a narrative of Black joy to the forefront of the media and the public eye, which no brand has done previously.

“He never follows the rules, he creates work that suits him and his personal narratives.”

Foday Dumbuya

Place of Birth

Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Spiritual guides, Mentors

God is my spiritual guide. I have many mentors, from my kids, to friends, poets and artists that I admire. To mention just a few, Christina Sharpe, Terrance Hayes, Teju Cole, Edouard Glissant and Wong Kar-wai.

Current exhibitions

The London Open 2022 at Whitechapel Gallery until 4 September, and ‘Air’ at The Utah Museum of Fine Arts from 16 July – 11 December.

Education

BA Honours in Creative Industries Management at Coventry University (2012).


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