October Artwork of the Month: Bernie Grant by Kelvin Okafor

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01 October 2018

To mark Black History Month, October's Artwork of the Month is Kelvin Okafor's portrait of Bernie Grant, one of the UK's first black MPs.

The portrait of the former Labour MP for Tottenham was commissioned by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art in 2017.

Drawn in 180 hours using pencil and charcoal by hyper-realist artist Kelvin Okafor, the portrait was unveiled by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn in December 2017.

Bernie Grant (1944-2000)

In 1987 Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng became 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 portrait of Bernie Grant is displayed  in Portcullis House. The portrait can be viewed by visitors to Portcullis House or by booking a Contemporary Portraiture Tour.

Further information

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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

Works of Art Advisory Panel (Lords)

The Works of Art Advisory Panel considers matters relating to works of art and artistic heritage