Portrait of Bernie Grant (1944-2000) unveiled in Parliament

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05 December 2017

A new portrait of one of Britain’s first black MPs, Bernie Grant (1944-2000), was unveiled in Parliament this evening.

The portrait of the former Labour MP for Tottenham was commissioned by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art earlier this year.

Drawn in 180 hours using pencil and charcoal by hyper-realist artist Kelvin Okafor, the portrait will now join the Parliamentary Art Collection.

Bernie Grant (1944-2000)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the election of Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng as the first ever black MPs.

Guyana-born Grant is well remembered for his passionate work campaigning for racial equality, as well as making his mark in the House of Commons by wearing a traditional Ghanaian cotton robe at the State Opening of Parliament.

A champion of social and racial justice, and a pioneer for diversity, after his death in 2000, Prime Minister Tony Blair described him as “an inspiration to black British communities everywhere”.

Portrait of Bernie Grant by Kelvin Okafor, pencil and charcoal on paper, 2017 (Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA 7607)

Kelvin Okafor (b. 1985)

Kelvin Okafor was born in London and studied Art at City & Guilds Art School and Middlesex University. The style in which Okafor creates his portraits, which resemble high-resolution photographs, is known as hyper-realism.

How to view the portrait

As an important addition to the Contemporary Collection, Okafor’s artwork will be placed on permanent display in a prominent location in Portcullis House from Friday 8 December. The portrait can be viewed by visitors to Portcullis House or by booking a Contemporary Portraiture Tour.

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Works of Art (Speaker's Advisory Committee)

The Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art is appointed by the Speaker to advise on matters relating to works of art in the House of Commons