How To Make Responsive Art Work About Caribbean Carnival In Britain Without Denying That It Is White Run, Black Culture?


“A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom” 

Claudia Jones – Founder of The Notting Hill Carnival, Journalist and Activist

and for the ones at the back me me say it two time!


Picture this, its 2019, Pre-Lockdown Era, Pre- The Murder of George Floyd and the 2nd Wave of Black Lives Matter and I have been asked by Donna Fox who was the Chief Executive of EMCCAN which acronym for East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network to respond to what’s called the Paul Hamlyn Funded Explore And Test Programme.

‘We would very much like to engage you in preparing a piece of art which summarises the Paul Hamlyn carnival arts in education project, involving some of the children’s comments, feelings, results and findings of the project as some kind of wall art or digital art piece for display at a national conference.’- Donna Fox, Chief Executive – EMCCAN, East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network.


So basically, I was being asked to create a piece of art that would act as an infographic/visual graph depicting the findings from the research gathered from all of the carnival workshops (funded by Paul Hamlyn) that took place across the UK. I had created infographics in terms of graphic design before, but this was a unique opportunity to create a piece of art that reflects the findings of others as well as my own thoughts on the findings and the concept of the Caribbean Carnival itself. My piece would be blown up to A0 billboard size and presented at a Carnival Conference headed by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


Research: So, I began researching the Caribbean Carnival, what it means and why it existed in the first place?

The word carnival was first used in English in the mid-16th century. It came from the Italian ‘Carnevale’, which was seemingly derived from a medieval Latin word, ‘carnelevamen‘. The Latin literally refers to ‘goodbye to the flesh’, a reference to the practice of abstaining from meat during Lent. But Carnivals have African origins because they were first celebrated in Ancient Egypt which was called Kemet.

‘Carnival was born out of resistance’

Rhoma Spencer, storyteller and champion of Caribbean theatre, pays homage to the activist origins of Trinidadian Carnival in ‘How Carnival Was Born Out Of Resistance’ by CBC Arts

The Caribbean Carnival as we know it about finally being free from being enslaved by Europeans Carnival’s celebration of rebellion against enslavement has roots in both African and Indigenous cultures. Carnival first took shape in the late 18th century on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, emerging in a ritual called Cannes Brulees (French for “sugarcane burning”). Enslaved Africans purposefully set fire to sugar cane intended for sale, resisting plantation slavery through the destruction of its valuable export commodity–sugar (Liverpool 1998). Instruments resembling drums and sticks were used during Cannes Brulees to perform percussive music linked to the African roots of enslaved people; this music reconnected the performers with their ancestors and the past spirits that guided and sustained them (Liverpool 1998). This musical performance was an act of reclaiming the cultural vitality, taking ownership of their culture and enacting empowerment through these acts of rebellion. 

Creating The Piece: I wanted to use portraiture to convey that the origins of Caribbean Carnival have been birthed from Black people who were birthed from Black women who descend from the kidnapped and enslaved West Africans. I painted an image of a Black woman whose skin is jet black, to represent to mimic the look of Wicked Jab or Jab Molassie or Jab Jab which is a kind of carnival where the word Jab was derived from the French word “Diable” meaning “devil”, so a masquerader playing Jab Jab is playing the devil. Jab is a satirical representation of the evil inflicted by the white colonialist on the slaves, literally covered in molasses (sugar) the product that made white enslavers catastrophically wealthy. There are different genres or characters of Caribbean Carnival and I chose to also base my piece on ‘Pretty Mas’ or ‘Fancy Mas’ as it is also known. The reason why I chose this style to base my piece on is that it is instantly identifiable as being African originated ‘carnival’.

I wanted to root the piece in Nottingham, Nottingham had a high Caribbean population (now largely hidden in its Mixed Race descendants) I wanted to highlight the special brand of colourism that many Caribbeans brought over to the UK with them. Black Caribbean people also brought ‘vibes’ with them and a willingness to survive by any means necessary too, I cladded the skin of the woman in the image with photography of famous Caribbean Carnivals, notably Notting Hill Carnival. I wanted the piece to be bejewelled and encrusted with colour, powerful bold statements to reflect the protest element plus the gratitude and joy of freedom (from the abolition of slavery until now). I wanted to show these things in this piece.

Fun fact: The origins of Caribbean Carnival in the UK actually all started in Nottingham in 1958 (Claudia Jones’ Notting Hill Carnival would come 8yrs later in 1966)

For more info on the origins of Caribbean Carnival in the UK in Nottingham and Notting Hill London Carribean Carnival see here for more info, Nottingham Carnival Heritage Project and Notting Hill Carnival Our History

The piece is peppered with names of different types of carnival, significant dates from Caribbean history and the names of Caribbean countries.

The piece also features reviews collected by various creative workshop facilitators from kids across the UK.


The day had come for me to reveal the piece to Donna Fox at EMCCAN who had commissioned the piece. I had worked very hard on coming to a solution that had to fully encapsulate so much that it resulted in a piece I titled ‘Bittersweet Carnival’

The reaction from Donna Fox was initially positive, she said that loved the image that I had created but she had an issue and did not agree with one of the comments that I had included in the piece ‘WHITE RUN, BLACK CULTURE?’, Donna said…

‘Caribbean carnival is not white run, Caribbean Carnival has lots of Black people taking part in it and plus Caribbean Carnival is not just for Black people, its for everyone’

Donna Fox, Former Chief Executive of EMCCAN

I explained that you as a white woman are the Chief Executive of EMCCAN? when Carnivals are put on, carnival organisers have to adhere to an onslaught of regulations, created by white lawmakers, in a majority-white country? it’s literally over-policed by a very large white police presence? Donna still did not see my point but reiterated that she thought that the piece was beautiful, eye-catching and original.

Donna had to answer a call and another Black woman happened to be in the room when we were discussing the piece and I asked her,

‘Don’t you agree with me?’

(in an attempt to save myself from internalising the gaslighting about the reality of Caribbean Carnival culture in the UK) and she said,

‘Honey, I have a child and I need to get paid but I hear you’.

It’s like my mum would sometimes say ‘Sometimes your right but you’re still wrong’. I understood and we knowingly nodded to each other as Black women do, I respected what she said. I was on my own with my piece and left EMCCAN feeling disappointed, annoyed and saddened, so annoyed in fact that I did not end up sharing this piece on social media at the time of the project. Then some huge happened in the world…

2 things, the first was Corona, a new deadly virus that was spreading the entire planet called Corona or Covid 19, it forced us all to quarantine in our houses. Many lives were being lost due to the virus and illness caused by it and we were all forced to wear masks outside and think about our lives a lot. Then a couple of months after that, the news hit that an innocent Black man called George Floyd had been murdered by Police Brutality in Minneapolis in America and you could view his murder online. People across the globe took to the streets to protest his murder and were supporting hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter. It was an awakening for many but for me it was an affirmation of stuff I that I had already known. Millions of mini race wars were ensuing on social media, the prospect of Brexit was still swilling around and I was being offered work on the topic of racism left right and centre. All of a sudden, white-owned organisations everywhere realised that racism white supremacy was an issue or it was suddenly on trend to appear to realise that it was an issue and posted Black squares on instagram? It was like a ridiculous and over-ambitious movie plot gone wild.

Then I was sent an email and a link to an EMCCAN publication that depicted my piece ‘Bittersweet Carnival’, it read…

‘Bittersweet Carnival, by artist Honey Williams was commissioned to produce an artistic evaluation of the Paul Hamlin project working with schools from September to December 2019. This piece has become quite relevant to the black lives matter movement and Emccan will be proud to exhibit the large print when it is safe to host exhibitions.’ ‘Emccan wishes to express its condolences to the family of George Floyd and reaffirmed its commitment to promote educate and celebrate diversity racial justice and artistic excellence in all its programs’

EMCCAN, (see link and below) Virtual EMCCAN

I was like… see!

All in all, I am happy that I created the piece, the piece ended up being quite prophetic to people who apparently had no idea that anything was wrong with regards to racial discrimination and some actually did have a change of heart. I am glad that some people received the piece as it was intended but art is supposed to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, so I suppose I fulfilled that. The piece also depicts the joy, the music, the dance, the beat, the bass, the spice, the infectious love, visual protest and freedom that Black Caribbean people can now feel at least once a year at Carnival whilst the people who love and appreciate this culture can respectfully support them by respecting and centring the origins of the Caribbean Carnival whilst taking part and having fun too!

“We are such a blessed tribe/Sweeter than a million bees/People live a thousand lives/And never feel this free”

-Freetown Collective and DJ Private Ryan, from their song “Feel the Love”

Creating Shrines and Self Reflection in a Landscape of Fatphobic Misogynoir


‘Racism, sexism, ableism, homo- and transphobia, ageism, fatphobia are algorithms created by humans’ struggle to make peace with the body. A radical self-love world is a world free from the systems of oppression that make it difficult and sometimes deadly to live in our bodies

-Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

Hazy, dark, dangerous, reflective, panic filled, passion and life-changing seismic shift, that concoction of emotions is how I will always think of the first half of 2021. I had spent time almost dying from covid and being hospitalised in intensive care in Jan – Feb  2021. I was in a whirlwind of creative frustration during and after my time in hospital in recovery mode. I wanted to birth brilliance, but I felt hyper with ideas fizzing away in my head but I did not know what to do with them? Or where to start?

I had been given the opportunity to be an artist in residence at City Arts in Nottingham April – October 2021. So had the residency to focus my will on whilst recovering and exploring what materials I was drawn to. I was tasked with creating an exhibition called ‘BLACK TODAY’, it was going to feature me and another artist but they had to cancel their residency.

“…the current anti-fat bias in the United States and in much of the West was not born in the medical field. Racial scientific literature since at least the eighteenth century has claimed that fatness was ‘savage’ and ‘black.”

― Dr Sabrina Strings, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

I wanted to create work that enabled me and my big black woman-ness to take up as much room as possible. Growing up as a big woman in a society often in deep denial of how fatphobic, misogynoir is structurally implemented and manufactured in different forms across western society, can make navigating and slaying life really hard. It often means that big black women and femmes are still rendered invisible and hyper visible through racist, sizeist and heteronormative politics, which means opportunity can be debilitated and the everyday wellbeing of it’s non-white, non-slim, non-male citizens is often silenced. Big black women and femmes turn to other cultural sources for ‘soul’ survival, self-care and celebratory representation in history and contemporary times.

‘Afrofuturism is an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation. I generally define Afrofuturism as a way of imagining possible futures through a black cultural lens’

– Ingrid LaFleur (Art Curator and Afrofuturist)

I turned to music and songwriting and obviously creating art, as a way to self-soothe. I gravitated towards spray paint and broad strokes of acrylic, emulsion and discarded giant roller blinds as a canvas. I painted, sometimes into the night, blared out some playlists and films, youtube videos and sunk into a creative flow. There’s something about 1-3am, and you start to lose self-awareness and trust yourself more. I was fixated on how I could visualise how it might feel to come out of the other side and not just exist in survival mode but strive for something bigger, rapturous, reckless and sensuous.

So, I created giant self-portraiture, exaggerated versions of me on largescale red and purple roller blinds vandalised by a frenzied attack of abstract spray-painted, multicoloured, metallic landscapes. Those intense sessions resulted in 7-10 giant pieces of work that I am proud of and an exhibition called Black Today which featured my body of work titled ‘Shrines’ by Honey Williams at New Art Exchange – 6:30pm, 12 March 2022 (part of Saziso Phiri’s CATALYST programme). A Big THANK YOU! City Arts and to all who made this exhibition happen and to all who came! Special Thanks to Alison Denholm (City Arts) and Saziso Phiri (Anti Gallery).

‘Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill…For the master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house. They will never allow us to bring about genuine change’

— Audre Lorde, ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Creating Women-led Wonderlands in a Mans World


“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”

— Lewis Carroll

Collaboratory Public Engagement Creative Project:

Summer 2022, I was asked by Producers, Saziso Phiri and Parmjit Sagoo to be a Visual Consultant/ Graphic Designer on an exciting new multilayered collaboratory public engagement creativproject.

‘Parmjit and I are working on a project in partnership with St Pancras International that will see a new permanent artwork inspired by Alice in Wonderland by previous NAE exhibiting artist Shezad Dawood unveiled ( NAE are working with St Pancras and HS1 to produce programming alongside the artwork. We’ll be working with a group of up-and-coming Nottingham-based women musicians/poets in a project led by rapper Jaya (, and Sound Designer Tom Harris to put together a 3 part special podcast series inspired by themes from the Alice in Wonderland stories. The podcast series is to be accompanied by visuals, which would include podcast art for the podcast episodes and a printed publication presenting documentation from the project. Parmjit and I would like to invite you to lead and design the visual identity for this.’

I was intrigued by the concept of being a part of creating a visual response, a sonic response, to an art installation, it sounded like a challenge so I accepted.


‘Steampunk is…a joyous fantasy of the past, allowing us to revel in a nostalgia for what never was. It is a literary playground for adventure, spectacle, drama, escapism and exploration. But most of all it is fun!’

― George Mann

I met most of the creative team at the New Art Exchange, I presented them with a mini PowerPoint introduction to me and how I became a multi-dimensional creative. Then we collaged our ideas for the project both visually and sonically together, we discussed topics raised within Alice in Wonderland such as escapism, femininity and transportation. We looked at images of Shezads work in progress plus some of Shezads research, we also looked at photography taken by Svitlana Kolosnichenko the Wondherland collective in St Pancras station as they recorded and gathered research for the podcast they were creating. All of the Artists are insightful and flourishing as new artists. One of the artists, a Black woman (that I now know to be Kairel) was mostly silent for the session but made 1 comment. That one comment sounded so multi-layered, beautifully considered, intricate and in-depth that she inspired me to make the collage below that literally centred her. I shared with Kairel that I could see her brilliance inside and this made her emotional and she then opened up, It was a beautiful powerful first session with them all. [See collage and pics of Session 1 below]


‘I fused the beauty of dreaming and the reality of life into a single blissful colour…..On a clear bright day even the softness of the sounds is golden’ ― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

In the next 2 sessions, we touched base at the New Art Exchange, we shared how we felt about the week. It was meditative and immersive, the room was full of purple and orange lighting and Parmjit slowly took us through some mind-expanding exercises. Tom Harris sound designer, set up recording equipment to later record vocals to possibly be used for the podcast/sound design.

After taking part in the meditation, I doodled, based on how I felt to the sound of ambient music by Tom Harris. I allowed my mind to ebb and flow through different states of emotion, and colour, it sent me on a synesthetic journey. I felt warm, beautiful, in control, contemplative, calm and electric and the Illustration and paintings that I produced reflected that. We all took turns recording our singing, sounds, spoken word and rapping. Jayahadream encouraged the rest of the WondHERland collaborators to add what they felt and what they had written. I took what I did during the sessions, I also read Alice in Wonderland, I listened to a playlist that I had curated which pivoted around remixes of songs like Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic 60s song ‘White Rabbit’ and future sounds like Flying Lotus’s ‘Endless White’ and began to warp, mirror, kaleidescope and conjure up the digital imagery below.

THE LAUNCH: Final Outcome & Exhibition & Zine Launch

‘Desire line: A path that pedestrians take informally, rather than taking a sidewalk or set route; e.g. a well-worn ribbon of dirt that one sees cutting across a patch of grass, or paths in the snow’

The day of the exhibition of HMS ALICE LIDDELL by Artist @shezad.dawood  at @stpancrasinternational had come. Shezad’s stunning work was inspired by Alice in Wonderland in terms of speculative fiction, steampunk and metaphorical journeys. The #WondHERland Collective and the entire creative team was looking forward to seeing Shezads work and also seeing the zine in print. It was the first time I had travelled down to London since I had Covid last year and almost did not make it. So things like breath control, walking and vast crowds of people have become alien to me over these months, so the thought of being in London (even though I lived there for 5 years) it was ominous. Being at St Pancras International, whilst a train strike is going on was surreal, no traffic and only a few people, you really get a sense of how ginormous and glass cathedral-like the building is when you’re not rushing through it. I met Shezad and a few of his team at the station upstairs in the performance space. Shezad and Parmjit gave speeches and I even ended up singing at the launch along with the super talented Rachael Davina and Lead artist Jayahadadream. I performed, though I was under rehearsed, and trying to find my voice amongst a labyrinth of echoes bouncing off the glass of the St Pancras station.
Thanks to Shezad, Wondherland Collective, @lindleyproductions for the sound, @cindysissokho and St Pancras for supporting us that day. Such a proud day and so much talent and emotion packed into one huge intricate project, Big up to everyone involved 🖤

The final sculpture in Factum’s workshop © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte


New Art Exchange:


The Art Newspaper: Psychedelic sculpture—an ode to Alice in Wonderland, steampunk and Gothic Revival architecture—to be installed at St Pancras in London next year, THE ART NEWSPAPER 2021

Homelessness, Art Therapy & The Power To Change Your World


RESPOND PROJECT: by Honey Willimas, Streetwise Opera & Y.M.C.A. Nottingham, UK

Art therapy can help the homeless “re-paint” the current canvas of their lives by exploring feelings, reconciling emotions, managing addictions, developing social skills, reducing anxiety and, thereby, increasing self-esteem

Dr. Frank Marangos (CEO/Founder of OINOS Educational Consulting), Arts Therapy For The Homeless – Home Boco

The Situation and Task:

In late 2021, I was asked by Streetwise Opera Nottingham to produce a collaborative mural on a wall at the YMCA Nottingham with people who are experiencing homelessness. The task was to create a large, tall mural that would embody the participants/ fellow muralists wanted it to and to find out what that was. The participants hailed from YMCA Nottingham and were from many diverse backgrounds, Iranian, Somali, Czech, Afghanistani, Polish, Tanzanian, Gambian as well as from all over the UK. Many had a myriad of professions before coming to be at the YMCA eg. teachers, labourers, engineers, and nursing and some were sufferers of depression, and injuries and needed a break. Lots of creative talent was found amongst the budding muralists, singers, artists and poets. The room where the mural would be was ‘mix-usage’, a common room, where people chill, there was a mini-market with vegetables and fruit, tables to sit and dine at and write out forms or use a laptop on. I asked everyone how they would like to feel in the room where the mural was going to be, and they said words like… ‘zesty, bold, bright, and something positive that promotes wellbeing to wake us up in the morning’. Markedly different to how it looked, like a magnolia waiting room (with a tall ceiling) of a clinic.

‘Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move

-Jeanne Noble (Author), Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters (Book)


One of the first things we did as a group was to research and explore the YMCA Nottingham building itself, to see if it would spark some inspiration. We had fun exploring the building, taking photos, making vids and generally playfully interacting with the YMCA building. We noted the primary coloured gyms, climbing ropes, tall elegant ceilings painted in bright yellow, purple, grass green, red and royal blue, the art deco spiral stairwells, bold blue and red doors with porthole windows, large futuristic-looking air vents, fluorescent lighting, with a few woodchipped magnolia walls and grey carpets.

We researched the designer of the YMCA Nottingham building, a striking, regal grade II listed art deco building, designed by Cecil Howitt. The building is clad in black Vitralite, an opaque structural mirror-like glass of which is now unavailable and extremely rare. We researched the art deco period. I asked the participant to create collages out of all of our findings using photos, magazines, slogans, coloured card, stencils, and shiny collage materials that represent visually how they want the space to feel.

I then created a design of what I thought the piece should be but then scrapped that because I was reminded that I needed to decentre my own natural inclination to strive for perfection when making my own art. This project was much more about the process and the therapeutic effects of artmaking. It was more about the confidence that the participants would gain rather than the emphasis being on the finished project. We played a playlist of music that incorporated songs from the cultures represented at the YMCA Nottingham. We discussed at length what should be depicted, there was a Czech participant that spoke limited English and he had a translator app on his iPad that allowed us to communicate. Common themes came up; ‘reaching for the stars’, and ‘climbing up out of a bad situation’, we bought paint (black blackboard paint, gold, black, silver, red, yellow, orange, royal blue and green), we bought (little mirrors, glue, markers, scissors, stencils).

I worked out that due to time restrictions it would be best to do the piece in layers, inspired by the themes, colours, and shapes that kept recurring when we gathered everyone’s ideas via collage. Each week the piece took shape and each one of us contributed our part, be it a thought or brush stroke etc. We decided on the concept of the image of people climbing ropes, trying to get to the top of the piece, surrounded by the sun, stars, colourful sky and planets with a silhouette of Nottingham beneath it.

The Result:

Without community, there is no liberation…but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist

-Audre Lorde (Writer, Womanist, Radical Feminist, Professor and Civil Rights Activist)

After weeks of work, the participants and I created a huge vibrant instinctual mural that I hope helps to promote a readiness to live and enjoy life. I hope that this mural acts as a catalyst to inspire action, climbing towards better days. I hope that this piece gives permission to aspire to dreams, I hope it helps towards dissolving stress and gives a sense of community, togetherness and joy.

Before & After:

I would ask you what you think of the piece but I think a better question would be…

Q. What are you doing to change your world?

Why Black People Do Not ‘Escape To The British Countryside’ & How Art Can Help Change That


“Estrangement from our natural environment is the cultural contest wherein violence against the earth is accepted and normalized. If we do not see earth as a guide to divine spirit, then we cannot see that the human spirit is violated, diminshed when humans violate and destroy the natural environment.”

― Bell Hooks, Belonging: A Culture of Place

No, I dont get warm fuzzy feelings when I try to walk into a traditional English country pub or down a country road or even through the woods in the countryside, its quite the opposite. I’m too intersectional to feel comfy, I navigate the world as a Black woman and a big one at that. The looks, the ignorance, the fear, even the microaggressive over-politeness but have you ever thought to yourself ‘Why is this? and why are there almost no Black people living or visiting the British Countryside? pause that thought for a moment. The team behind @HockleyHustle and @YoungHustlers brought their brand new, free *Green Hustle Festival* to Sneinton Market Avenues and the surrounding area. The Green Hustle Festival aims to bring diversity, positivity and accessibility to environmental issues; making it fun and engaging for everybody’. It consisted of Activities/Workshops/Presentations/Talks/ Stalls/Independent sellers and performance centring the environment. It was fantastic to be asked to create a creative interactive experience and have my own stall at the fest.

Event: Black Flowers Blossom Artmaking Workshop
ig: @greenhustlefest
Location: #sneintonmarket, Nottingham, UK
Date/Time: Saturday, 5/6/21 10am-4pm 🌞

#blackflowersblossom artmaking workshop was born, named after a line from the song ‘Teardrops‘ by British Trip Hop band Massive Attack, the song conveys ‘the fragility and the power of such an ethereal concept as love’.

Rural & Structural Racism in Britain:

To explain the relevance of the workshop I’ll have to go back to explain why Black people are not in the British countryside and do not perceive it as being somewhere to escape to. After WW2, when many African Caribbean people (that term never sits right with me but I get what its trying to say ‘Black Caribbean’ basically) were invited by the British government to come to Britain to help repair it. Due to racist anti-black policies, such as cancelling everyone’s education down to aged 11. The British government did this despite…

  • The British owning the British speaking Caribbean countries
  • The British controlling their education systems
  • Brainwashing Caribbeans to have an unquestionable reverence for the Queen, the Motherland (England), British Colonial Christian values and British History
  • Black Caribbeans were classified as British citizens by law

This law instantly disenfranchised the new Black Caribbean arrivals, instantly making them a poverty-stricken population. Due to racism and not having recognised qualifications, most Black people in Britain couldn’t fulfil their career aspirations. Black people were forced to live in the ‘ghettos’ of Britain, due to governmental white fears surrounding racism, miscegenation and Black male sexuality. The British government neatly used their erasure of Black Caribbean qualifications and Caribbean class structures to segregate the white elite from the rest of the population by using classism, racism and urban planning. No need for any in your face American style or South African style segregation tactics.

Even pre-European colonisation, Black people were often depicted negatively. The concept of being ‘urban’, poverty-stricken, criminal and being an underclass became a racist stereotype and associated with blackness in Britain. Further compounded by the constant depiction of the criminalisation of Black people in the media ever since the Ronald Reagan/ Margaret Thatcher era and the planned influx of drugs and guns into American inner cities during the late 70s and early 80s, thus criminalisation of blackness.

The Green Hustle Festival: Black Flowers Blossom Art-making Workshop

The workshop I created acts towards reconnecting Black people with nature🌴🌳🥑🌊🌻🍃, making it ‘ok’ for Black people to appreciate British countryside too (instead of being greeted with racial hostility, microaggressive behaviour (such as impromptu hair and skin touching or people singing the South African National anthem at you and your 2 Black girlfriends whilst you’re walking around Corby (that actually happened).

“For the first time this year, a lot of people realised the countryside and nature are really important for our health and mental wellbeing,” said Black history writer ​​​Louisa Adj​oa Parker, 48, who lives in rural southwest England.

“I think that has also raised questions around who has access to the countryside, who belongs there, who’s accepted there,” said Parker, who is also a British-Ghanaian diversity consultant.

– As COVID-hit Brits escape to the country, minorities face rural racism by @linnytayls | Thomson Reuters Foundation

The workshop acts to intellectually disassociate the ridiculously antiquated early 2000’s term ‘urban’ from blackness, via collage, collaboration and mixed media. All of the participants were asked to use this as a theme for their work ‘nature and black people’, humanising the representation of Blackness at ‘grass level’. The workshop sparked conversations about being Black or Mixed Race in the countryside or being a white person in the countryside being exposed to anti-black racist rhetoric as normalcy.

Collage is one of those art forms that people often feel able to set themselves free of any overcritical voice and just literally get stuck in, cutting, glueing, you’re actively encouraged to make a beautiful mess whilst discussing the topic at hand. Needless to say they got in the zone, our group was diverse in age, race, gender, physical ability. We discussed the topic at hand on many different levels of which resulted in the creation of some stunning pieces as you can see🔥

I want to thank everyone who came to the event and all who made this event possible.

How To Get Paid to Make Murals in Paradise


Imagine life Pre-Covid, flashback to 2019, its winter in Nottingham UK, feeling under pressure to apply for literally hundreds of graphic design/ creative roles and usually being interviewed in blisteringly white offices by dozens of middle-class white guys with beards who look at you like they have never met a big black woman before let alone thought about working with one. Enduring their polite mildly disgusted smiles as they read through your impressive fully qualified cv, whilst you confidently slay the interview even though you both know that they’ll never employ you, but at least they can tick a diversity box at the interview stage, right? but that’s another blog post.

There has to be a better way to spend my time on earth?

I was yearning to travel and get some kind of break, in terms of my creativity. One day, multiple people tagged me into an ad by the British Council, the job ad was titled ‘Paint Up Yuh Space’, the ad was looking for a Mural Artist and Workshop Facilitator to work in Kingston, Jamaica in honour of the Windrush generation (The Windrush Generation are the Caribbeans invited by the UK as British citizens to help repair Britain after #WorldWarII in the years 1948-1972) for the British Council and Jamaica’s Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and Studio 174 Kingston. The ad was looking for muralists of Jamaican descent worldwide, the deadline for the application was the next day! on a Wednesday but managed to get it all in on time and to my surprise they chose me! on the Friday!!!?! I’d be flying out within 10days!

Needless to say MINDBLOWN!!!!?!!!!!?!?!??!:”!”@!£!@$!

When I found out I was completely overwhelmed!
‘I’m going to be paid to work as something that comes as natural to me as breathing in paradise for 7days!?!!
Jamaica here I come! mi ready fi yuh!’

DAY 1:

There was a delay of a few weeks before I was given all of the details for travel and the hotel etc, for a moment I did not think that things were going ahead and did not announce that I was going to Jamaica until everything was finalised. I borrowed money to buy some plus sized summer clothes at the speed of light! (of which was a task all by itself) After the journey from leaving out in a uber to go to…

  1. Nottingham Train Station UK
  2. Then Piccadilly Train Station, Manchester, UK
  3. Then Manchester Airport, UK
  4. Then to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, USA
  5. Then to Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston, Jamaica
  6. Then a taxi finally to Courtleigh Hotel, Kingston, Jamaica

Needless to say I was completely knackered, it was the night when I arrived, I found my driver after a good long while being in Norman Manley Airport. The airport looked part retro, part postmodern, organised and well used, busy with Black people. We drove through the cool night to get to Courtleigh Hotel next to the beautifully ominous black sea swelling and glimmering in the city lights. I walked like a zombie into the shower and I barely had a chance to clock the beautiful hotel I would be staying in.


The morning came, I was exhausted but at the same time excited and trying to believe that I was in JA! I was picked up by my driver (yeah I had a driver) and on the journey snapshots of highly saturated colour slapped me in the face, the salty sea breeze, spiced soul food of home, bold sounds and the heat of Jamaica all hit me as I rushed around in the car sent to collect me. It’s as if someone had turned the lights on. I had been to Jamaica as a 12year old but never as an adult, though I remember it vividly,

the feeling of being the global majority in a place dominated by Black culture, my heritage feels energising like electricity going through your veins, you feel powerful, this must be how white people feel every day in Britain as normalcy?

– Honey Williams

I had to be ready in the morning to meet Jherane Patmore from the British Council in Jamaica, who accompanied me along with Connie Aitcheson from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport to meet Asif Anwar Ahmad, the British High Commissioner, where he showed me around the grounds and talked about what would be expected of me as a Muralist. I tried to take as many pics as I could on my little old iphone.

I then met Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick the Country Director at the British council and we talked about art and our backgrounds and how she cried when she saw my work! ?!!? we talked for ages about our respective experiences in art and I wanted

Then on from there, I went to meet the amazing and formidable Rozi Chung Art Therapist and Educator and Owner of Studio174 in Kingston.

‘Mi spirit just tek arr’ as Jamaicans would say

and the other talented Artists; Sheldon Blake, Kirk Cockburn and Tiana Anglin who were truly lovely and we all got along well. I saw where I would be creating 2 8ft by 4ft murals on a new hurricane-proof material called ultracem.

I also met some people who live and work next to Studio 174 and generally fitted in and really enjoyed meeting everyone.

DAY 2 – 4:

For a while, I stared at the blank 8ft by 4ft wall, melting in the heat, trying to acclimatise and concentrate on the task at hand. I deliberately did not plan the work I was going to create, I just thought that I would let my experience of Jamaica inform what I did. I was enjoying the sensory overload of Bashment playing at full blast with no Karens to tell them to (be quiet or I’ll call the police), the churches, the children as neat as summer coloured envelops sending themselves school and markets heaving with people, full of fruit and veg that cant grow in England. I saw wealthy light-skinned people driving around in mercs, beautiful yet crumbling downtown Kingston poised for gentrification and stray dogs that act like old gangsters hard on their luck. I saw suffering and poverty so harsh it would break your heart one second and the most gorgeous exotic array of flowers billowing out of luxury hotels and palatial peach mansions. I was driven back and forth from the hotel to the studio in the morning and the night, I didn’t really get much of a chance to fully soak Jamaica in as much as I’d liked.


I started to add colour to my first piece, didn’t want to rush anything but wasn’t sure how I was going to fit 2 big pieces into such a short time frame and be happy with it? I was at the studio painting from about 10am till 8pm most days. Effectively I had 5days to make 2 murals and 2days to travel to Jamaica and back to the UK, it’s a challenge! I was determined🔥 and stayed hydrated with a ton of bottles of water 💦 and fuelled up with delicious Jamaican cuisine. Rozi and I talked with ease as did Jherane (British Council Jamaica) they both took me to see a few sights and meet people, Devon House, Blue Mountain Festival, and Architect Kamau Kambui, who designed the stunning Emancipation Park, a park full of details from Jamaica’s history, Afro-centric designs and West African Adinkra symbols (I have to go back and explore it).

DAY 4-7:

I chose to base my pieces on the descendants of the Windrush generation, I had wanted to do 3 pieces but I only had 7 days. I was basically a live artist, local people would pass by and pop in and chat and ask you about what you are doing, which I quite liked because I didn’t have the time to go and see much of Jamaica so I tried put their energy in into the pieces too.

DAY 8-10:

Gyal Daughter 1 by Honey Williams (8ft x 4)
Spray paint, acrylic, emulsion, photocopies on Ultracem
gyal daughter 2

I managed to complete them both but was given a 3-day extension, so Rozi took me for a micro exploration of Kingston. I value my time working in Jamaica and I can’t quite believe that I was paid to be there! I would love to go back and do some more work out there, something that centres Black women at its core would be amazing. I think that it is telling that the first place that gave me a chance to officially created murals was in place of my parent’s birth, what an honour, Jamaica.

An Open Letter By Honey Williams: In Response To The Nottingham Project’s Apology


Mural Design of Eric Irons OBE

by Honey Williams

For context, please see this Nottingham Post article and listen to Honey on Black Womans Hour.

To The Nottingham Project (Management Team: Simon Bristow, Greg Nugent, and Lee Walker),

By definition, a ‘miscommunication’ is a failure to communicate clearly. With no communication at all since July 2021, I find it, quite frankly, unbelievable for you to try and pass off your error as such.

Apologising is about fully understanding the impact of your actions on others regardless of your intent.

Your “apology” suggests that you don’t understand the magnitude of the damage you have caused. I called the meeting at City Arts to understand the reasons as to why you didn’t invite me to the unveiling of my unfinished mural of Eric Irons OBE on 4/10/21 and how this failure happened, but instead this was overshadowed by your pain and remorse whilst making yourself the victim by weaponising your tears to silence the conversation.

Though this may not have been your intention, you failed to acknowledge the impact that your prior actions had, and are still having, on me. This includes, but is not limited to, anger, distress, embarrassment, and erasure.

When I am satisfied and you have demonstrated that, to not only me but the public, your understanding of the mistakes and damage caused is satisfactory, this is what I require to move things forward positively:

  1. The Nottingham Project recruits someone as part of their management team to represent the Black community correctly and with understanding. This person will have a genuine interest in the communities they are trying to serve. Leading by example by utilising someone who is not middle class, white, cis gendered, male, and not a token, would help to reflect this.
  2. Something in Nottingham that publicly and permanently celebrates Black people and their contributions to the city, including the greatness of Black British women and their achievements. I would like a date to set for this to happen before the end of this financial year.
  3. A goodwill gesture for all the embarrassment, sleepless nights, stress, headaches and inconvenience this episode has caused me.
  4. Invitations to prominent Black people to the unveiling of the finished mural in addition to The Irons Family e.g., Panya Banjoko, Saziso Phiri, SheAfriq, Cllr Leslie Ayoola, Sheriff Merlita Bryan, A.C.N.A. Centre, Pitman Brown, Ioney Smallhorne, Sonia Long, Norma Gregory, Jackie P, Pastor Clive Foster and others who have all contributed greatly to the Black Community of Nottingham.
  5. I want the mural to be finished to my satisfaction, the time frame needs to be discussed with me, then confirmed.

I am a sought-after award-winning artist and I want to concentrate on my creativity whilst being treated with respect. I hope you as an organisation learn from your mistakes and take my recommendations on board to prevent a repeat of this next Black History Month. After all, the best apology is changed behaviour.


Honey Williams


Re-imagining Masculinity Via Art Therapy in The National Justice Museum


“Fulfilment of masculinity is often sold on the strength of peak experiences: winning battles, pulling women, pure adrenaline, moments of ecstasy. But life ain’t like that. We rarely, if ever, take our car (masculinity) on to a racetrack, so maybe we need a version that works doing the everyday things. We need a masculinity that’s easy to park, with a big boot, child seats and low fuel consumption. Men need to learn to equip themselves for peace.”

― Grayson Perry, The Descent of Man

The Un-Masculinity Workshop took place on 10/9/21 at @justicemuseum Nottingham, UK. Big thanks to Chiara Delerba @dellerbachiara for inviting me to the National Justice Museum in order to deliver the art making workshop titled #unmasculinity. Unmasculinity is a word that I coined specifically for the workshop which means… ‘The art of unpacking the concept of masculinity’.

To create loving men, we must love males. Loving maleness is different from praising and rewarding males for living up to sexist-defined notions of male identity. Caring about men because of what they do for us is not the same as loving males for simply being.”

– bell hooks

We were looking at how masculinity, imprisonment and freedom intersect using collage art. The National Justice Museum is largely Victorian but the site dates back to 1449, many executions took place there. Poignant conversations where had, inspired collage pieces were created and new faces were met in such an architecturally beautiful and cavernous yet foreboding setting.

Rather than tell you exactly what happened on the day, the tear filled stories, rather than unpack what masculinity means to the west, to me or to others. Rather than discuss the indoctrination of the combustable nature of numbing emotion and the entitlement of men, the masculine and male identified people. Caging masculinity and the ways masculinity is shaped by this ‘pretend rehabilitation’. I have written a poetic response to the experience of the topics raised by the workshop and museum itself.

Amusement Parks of Incarcerated Male Existence by Honey Williams

Iron made from industrial revolution, slaver investment, hellfire and silent prayers
Contorted into ornate Victorian sorrow and stern bars
You can feel the blood in the muscular structure of bricks,
A warm foreboding sense of your own mortality
A warped cobbled floor where the accused, judged,
tortured and lawfully murdered stood

Men have chiselled their names into time, women are the dust
Respectable Caribbean grandsons of enslaved West African survivors,
bit their tongues, became tribe-less, duppies, zombies blinded by light and won the game allegedly
Local impoverished rebels, who lived up 14th century jitteh’s,
scattered to the other side of the earth for the coercive act of apple stealing
or the Sheriff leads the condemned onto the gallows
forever banishing them from their mothers calls

Robust in trauma, tragically feudal, for sadistic pleasure
Veiled in sandstone regality
What will burst the levy of tears inside?
Men staunchly adhere to the laws of manhood
Created officially by the wealthy powdered wigged judiciary
Black lacquered doors stand guard, vaulting the evidence of that human pain
Giant keys to past painted over locks now lost

Jaspal picks me up in his red uber
Now comes an urban renewal, a redress,
a new shape, new form, a shift in power,
a relief, a lessening of masked guilt,
an empathy, an acquittal, a reality-based history,
A recognition of the size, tone and beauty of authentic collaged experiences
a birthing of sons and their brand new inner architecture
and the art of burning down amusement parks of incarcerated male existence.

How To Be A Highly Intersectional Woman & A DJ with No Hair


“Our beliefs about bodies disproportionately impact those whose race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and age deviate from our default notions. The further from the default, the greater the impact. We are all affected – but not equally.”

― Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

So I made my debut as a DJ this weekend at @the___carousel at #queerphoria in Nottingham, UK & it was fire🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥! I was so nervous! But luckily I had gotten a DJing lesson using Serato DJ Pro on the day of the gig!!@#%! from Mr @joebuhdha (world renowned DJ/ Producer) He calmly guided me through the basics, gave me some tips all of which helped put me at ease.

The Intersection Between DJing, Fatness, Misogyny & The Racist White Supremacist Beauty Ideal:

“…the current anti-fat bias in the United States and in much of the West was not born in the medical field. Racial scientific literature since at least the eighteenth century has claimed that fatness was ‘savage’ and ‘black.”

― Sabrina Strings, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

I’ve secretly wanted to try DJing for the longest, I didnt ever really even admit that to myself right up until recently. I had no idea on how to go about it, what equipment would I really need and who would want me to DJ a gig for them?

Here are several reasons why I was apprehensive…

1. Representation – Anti-Blackness, Fatphobia & Misogyny: Much like singing… I have asked myself Q. Can a fat Black woman DJ be sexy and or beautiful? Why does a woman DJ need to be deemed ‘sexy’ or ‘beautiful’? when men OBVIOUSLY dont need to be. When it comes to representation I have never seen a big Black Woman DJ before in my life. Traditionally when going out to DJ led gigs and events typically the number of big or fat women in attendance are few and far between. Many are scared to go to events like these in fear of the ridicule and abuse they often receive. I expect the abuse and I am unafraid to deal with it but I do fear how draining it can be to have to work on repairing my sense of self worth the next day. Lookism is rooted in the long lasting effects of eugenics and phrenology see here

2. Lack of Access To Nepotism: Normally when you see women DJs they have often started because they had a DJ boyfriend and or because they have a cool ‘model-like’ look and its usually one of those things that have brought them into the mix. How do you start DJing but bypass the DJ boyfriend part? Now youtube exists now but back in the day knowledge surrounding DJing seemed mysterious, lowkey airtight, something that only men were allowed to do.

3. Having No Hair: I had recently had to do a #bigchop on my hair because it fell out after being ICU with covid. My fears around hairlessness are connected to not feeling as feminine and beautiful anymore and I hadn’t learned to accept the way I looked as a fat Black woman with hair.

4. Lack of Technical Know How: Ive literally just taken up Serato DJ Pro and Im considering getting a controller…. I’ll have to figure that all out asap

5. Toxic Positivity & Fear of Failure: The pressure of the fear of not having everything figured out can be debilitating. I have been blessed with quite a few talents, so I am good at many things but this can make embarking on adding yet another string to my bow is always lowkey daunting but only for the reason you would expect. Being talented and or smart as a big black woman often has adverse effects, you become more unappealing paradoxically, less employable etc. Seeing brilliant Black BBW’s winning (however incremental) can often mess with peoples minds as many view us as being lazy, stupid, ugly, incompetent, undesirable and unworthy….having those negative stereotype debunked can make some people angry. Plus trying something new is scary innit!

I am aware that sometimes I let my own and others feelings surrounding my body from myself over ride my desire to realise dreams. However, I have such great support from my friends that were there to help stop the tailspin into a black hole of insecurity and internalised anti-black, misogynistic, fatphobia the day before the gig. I was literally sat outside a an Asian owned Black Hair Shop out of desperation, to avoid being a bald BBW DJ, overwhelmed by every option of ‘femininity’ it contained. I decided that I was enough as I am and DJed with short hair and a fat black woman body anyway. Its funny because on the day dressed in my pastel pink floral chiffon dress, Dr Martens, lady danger coloured lips and fenty ‘trophy wife’ highlighter, I felt so good and I looked hot btw but even if i didnt look hot I should feel able to take up space regardless even if I was a mediocre DJ with next to no music knowledge…like so many DJ’s Ive heard play.

“I’m more of an artist and a songwriter than I am a DJ. That word seems a little bit – well, it doesn’t really describe what I do.”


I knew that that the knowledge I had accumulated through my years as a singer songwriter, teaching singing as a lecturer and directing an alt choir @goachoir & even being a visual artist have meant that I’ve been prepping me for DJing my entire life. Maybe theres space for a fat black woman DJ to take up space and not just the lighter, whiter, exotical, longer haired, thinner more eurocentric ideal of beauty type women DJ’s.

Sometimes you’ve just gotta say YES and try learning something new!

If you would’ve told me wks ago that I’d be rocking a fresh #twa #bigchop and being a DJ in 2 wks id’ve laughed, yet here I am. Big up all involved in making that event Queerphoria Friday 30th July 2021 the success it was @christosgkenoud @y.a.y_m.a.r.i.a w/ @franxfranklin – @betamaxdrag @daeldbx – @witchoteast (DJ)
They loved my set was so much that I’ve been booked for my *2nd gig* at #PRIDE, September 11th in Nottingham. Can you believe that? Lol IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

Available for bookings:

How To Capture the Rise & Rise of Akala With A Pencil When Asked by The BBC


‘I often look at the world and just think fuck it, why bother, but I know that’s how we are supposed to feel, that’s why the corruption is so naked and freely visible – to wear down people who have the conviction that things could be better’

– Natives, Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Kingslee ‘Akala’ Daley

It was at some point in May, contemplating the prospect of living life without lockdown and where my next creative project was coming from..

Link to purchase book:

BBC Radio 4 – approached me (I dunno how???? I think I was headhunted on instagram but dont quote me on that!) in order to commission me to illustrate portraiture and design for a new audiobook/ podcast series (an abridged production of Akala’s “Natives – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire bestselling book). I’ve always thought that Akala seems like a cool guy and we share a couple friends so I agreed to do it.

Who is Akala?

‘Akala aka Kingslee James McLean Daley (born 1 December 1983),[1] better known by his stage name Akala, is a British rapper, journalist, author, activist and poet from Kentish TownLondon. In 2006, he was voted the Best Hip Hop Act at the MOBO Awards[2] and has been included on the annual Powerlist of the 100 most influential Black British people in the UK, most recently making the 2021 edition’ …well thats what wikipedia said. I will let him introduce himself… check out this youtube clip: HUNGER x Akala.

The illustration/ design had to be reminiscent of the book art design but not the same. Akala’s book, is a personal memoir slash historical political essay covering themes such as heritage, mixed race identity, anti-black racism, education and the concept of nationhood, combined with a real sense of Akala’s humble yet culturally wealthy, gritty upbringing, its a good read. I had a very short time in which to produce something that I could be truly happy with, so I had to be decisive in direction I chose to take.

I started with a photo of him and developed it, I created a pencil and ink drawing then transformed it withinto digital wizardry. I was not happy at first but persevered until I was finally satisfied. Then I let the BBC team see it, possibly Akala saw it and okayed it, I have no idea.

I blared out his music (notably the second part of ‘Fire In The Booth – Part 4‘ from 12:56mins onwards is particularly stunning) on youtube, his lectures on Black Masculinity and couple other beats in order to get myself in an Akala mode….lol lets go with that for now. I tried my best to encompass all of those elements and the essence of him within the way I created the mood of podcast art. I used stratches and imperfection to convey the street element of his persona and I had to give him a wisdom filled intense gaze with that cheeky ‘di gyal dem sugar’ look in his eyes to make him become real in a covert and impactful way.

Illustration and Design by Honey Williams @thehoneyeffect

The BBC loved it, hopefully he likes it? but then again who cares… I like it and thats the be all and end all with any commission that comes my way. Akala’s podcast ‘Natives, Class & Race: In The Ruins of Empire‘ was launched in Monday 31/5/21, you can see my illustration there.