17 July 2017
SOAS University of London is honouring three pioneering figures in the field of art, architecture and music each with global reach and influence at this year’s SOAS Graduation Ceremonies.
The awardees are founder of the MOBO awards Kanya King, the celebrated UK architect Sir David Adjaye and award-winning sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp.
Baroness Valerie Amos CH, Director of SOAS said: “We are delighted to welcome to SOAS these remarkable individuals who have excelled in their fields. For me personally, it is particularly special that we celebrate three figures with strong African and UK roots whose work is strongly connected to culture and heritage and to pushing the boundaries of our understanding of identity and place. These are important themes for us at SOAS where we constantly reflect on and challenge conventional understandings. In each of their fields, their achievements and activities are global in scope and they have been innovative and forward thinking. They also take time to “give back” to communities in their work. They are excellent role models for SOAS students.”
Sir David Adjaye OBE is widely recognised as the leading architect of his generation and his influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. Last year saw the opening of by President Barack Obama of Sir David‘s biggest project to date, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC In London his projects include the Idea Store, the Stephen Lawrence Centre, Rivington Place, and the Bernie Grant Centre for the performing arts. The material from Sir David’s ten-year study of the capital cities of Africa was shown in Urban Africa, an exhibition at the Design Museum, London and published as African Metropolitan Architecture. He is also outspoken in his commitment to designing beautiful buildings for people from all walks of life, with his firm as a “Robin Hood” practice: "For rich people we make things grittier, for poor people we make them glossier." He was knighted in 2017.
Sokari Douglas Camp CBE sculpts powerful works from steel that speak to her homes, in south London, the global city that is her studio base, and her Kalabari place of birth, in Nigeria’s oil-bearing Niger Delta. Her monumental figures and installations engage viewers’ emotions by their colour and invention but then challenge them to confront the historical inequalities and contemporary political challenges Africans face, on the continent and elsewhere, and to imagine the positive responses to these. Sokari is a committed communicator who instructs by example, finding time in her crowded international exhibition schedule to address students at SOAS, and lending us her works, most recently for the 2017 Centenary Exhibition ‘Celebrating Art and Music’.
Innovator, entrepreneur and visionary Kanya King MBE founded the MOBO organisation (Music of Black Origin) in 1996 to recognise the outstanding achievements of artists who perform music in genres such as gospel, jazz, RnB, soul, reggae, hip hop and grime. Over the past 17 years MOBO has played an instrumental role in elevating black music and culture to mainstream popular status in the UK. The MOBO platform has helped to launch the careers of many of today‘s big music talents. Kanya is a popular media figure and public speaker and has inspired entrepreneurs and music lovers across the world, giving inspirational addresses to many organisations. She also founded the MOBO Trust which advances education in the performing arts, particularly but not exclusively amongst children and young people from diverse backgrounds. Kanya was awarded an MBE in 1999.