Student's St Pauls project gets a showing during Black History Month

Michele Curtis with her portrait of Owen Henry, one of the seven founders of the St Pauls Carnival

Bristol artist Michele Curtis will be showcasing her St Pauls murals project across the city during Black History Month.

The City of Bristol College student launched the Seven Saints of St Pauls Heritage Mural Initiative - a project to celebrate seven figureheads of Bristol’s St Pauls community in large-scale mural form - with a week-long exhibition in June.

Miss Curtis has created charcoal and graphite portraits of each of the seven founders of the St Pauls Carnival – Owen Henry, Carmen Beckford MBE, Roy Hackett, Barbara Dettering, Delores Campbell, Audley Evans and Clifford Drummond.

And the project, supported by Bristol City Council and the Bristol Civic Society and backed by community funding, will see giant replicas of the portraits adorning buildings around St Pauls next year – in good time for the 50th anniversary of the carnival in 2018.

The artist’s portraits have already received acclaim in Bristol and further afield, and her work is set to reach a wider audience across the city with two exhibitions running simultaneously over the next six weeks.

Glenfrome Primary School in Fishponds launches a Seven Saints of St Pauls exhibition this Friday, with Yvonne Henry, daughter of the late Owen Henry, attending the opening. The event, by appointment only, runs until Thursday, 22 October, with the artist also running a workshop with pupils to design accompanying artwork for the murals.

The University of Bristol will also be staging a Seven Saints exhibition between Saturday, 3 October and Tuesday, 3 November as part of its Black History Month events. 

Miss Curtis was contacted by the University in the summer and the launch event on the Saturday, hosted by the Student Union, will feature a presentation and Q&A with the artist and the St Pauls Carnival Committee.

Miss Curtis said: "It’s great to see the amount of interest shown in the project and hopefully these two exhibitions will spread the interest further.

"I have made canvas prints for the school to exhibit and the originals will be at the university. It’s also going to be great working with the school pupils on additional artwork for the portrait murals -  reflecting the community they represent as well as their Afro-Caribbean ties."

The seven walls have now been identified for the murals in the St Pauls area and Felix Braun of the Paintsmiths of Bristol art group will be supporting Miss Curtis with the project.

She added: "Everyone has been so supportive and helpful. We received £1,000 towards the project from a DJ night fundraiser in the summer, another £1,000 from the Who Cares? music collective, and we’re currently putting together an application for Arts Council funding.”
And in what promises to be a busy few weeks for the College student, she will be attending Cabot Primary School next week to talk to pupils about the Seven Saints project and her life as an artist.

Michele Curtis with her portrait of Owen Henry, one of the seven founders of the St Pauls Carnival

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