|ENYI M by Emma Uwejoma|
It may not look it from this wonderful photograph but Emma and I had a lot of fun and laughter on this shoot. I cannot remember where I heard about Emma's work but it may have been on the Free Range site - Emma is a recent graduate of the BA (Hons) course at Newport, now the University of South Wales. I found her project "Ngwako" very interesting. The project examined her multicultural identity - she was born in Bournemouth of an English mother and a father who is Nigerian and who came over to England in the 1980s and found life quite hard. 'Ngwako' means hybrid and the question posed in her project was "Am I English like my mother or Nigerian Igbo like my father?" As I say, it is an interesting topic and I would urge you to look at Emma's website for a more detailed discussion and to see her brilliant portraits.
What made me contact Emma? Well, when I was a little boy, we lived in Finchley, North London which was then (in the 1950s) predominately white and Jewish. My mother had trained and worked as a dancer and, through her work in the theatre, she had met and made friends with people of many different races and from different walks of life and she was in many ways quite free thinking for her time. So this investigation by Emma into her roots was intriguing and I was even more excited when Emma proposed that she dress me in traditional native wear from Nigeria for the shoot.
We met for an initial chat at The Mad Hatter in Brighton and then a few weeks later set a date for the shoot at her flat round the corner from me. I wondered why she didn't answer her doorbell when I rang until the penny dropped and I realised that it was the correct flat number but wrong building. She laughed when I told her and, apart from when we posed for this picture, she didn't stop laughing all the time I was there. I love this photograph - not only does Emma look lovely but I love the formality and the fact that the setting is not perfect in that there is a speaker and a TV in one corner and a bookshelf and a bundle of wires in the other. I like the positioning of our hands and the fact that our left feet are both slightly in front of our right.
Yeah, this was fun and I am so pleased that I am now her friend and that she is mine. Daalụ, Emma.