Meet The Nigerian Artist Brightening The Streets Of London

Yinka Ilori is a British-Nigerian multidisciplinary artist bringing an enthralling feeling to walking across the streets of London through his kaleidoscope art. The hallmark of his repute can been described concerning his exuberance in art, colorful, and joy-evoking designs that have also won him commissions from the Brit Awards, NHS, Cannes Film Festival, and Adidas, as well as securing him the London Design Festival’s prestigious Emerging Design prize. He also has three window displays for the Selfridges Project Earth sustainability campaign, a Love Always Wins mural for Harrow City Council, aimed at “inspiring” fellow north Londoners to his credit.

In furtherance with his artistic portfolio was the transformation of Tottenham Court Road.

The artistic collaboration with Ilori, who was awarded an MBE earlier this year, fuses art and design to tell the unique story of Heart of Hale. “As you pass me by, know that it is nothing but love from me”, the first piece as part of Ilori’s residency, is a celebration of the existing community in Tottenham Hale and shows the possibility for all the different local communities – new and old – to be included in the area’s exciting future.

Influenced by his British Nigerian heritage, Ilori describes his designs as a “mish-mash” of both cultures. The colour in his work, he says, “stemmed from my parents, who were born and raised in Nigeria”. Growing up on an Islington estate, Ilori “saw them apply color to a place that was very rich in culture but aesthetically very grey”. He says it was an incredible place to grow up among such a diverse community.

“You get to understand that colour and what people wear is part of their culture, where they’re coming from. It gives people — and also it gave me — an insight into what it means to be Nigerian, a British Nigerian. Not only does it signify your identity but it also gives people a sense of belonging.” The way his parents wore Swiss lace and Dutch wax prints inspired him to be bold with his work. “I just saw them do it effortlessly and without sort of questioning what was right or wrong,” he said.

His British roots can be seen in the structure of his work, which unlike many flouncy maximalist designs celebrates crisp, clean lines. “We don’t wear a lot of colour here. Our architecture isn’t colorful. If you look at British culture, it can be quite soft, understated. If you’ve seen the Colour Palace, for example, the façade of it is very soft and linear and that for me is the British side of me coming out.”

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