THERE are just days left to see the stunning and inspiring exhibition Practice Makes Perfect at the Focal Point Gallery in Southend.

The project is by artist Rosa-Johan Uddoh, and explores ‘the relationship of childhood education with popular ideas of the British nation, and how this forms British subjects’.

Ending on August 29, the works also responds to debates about black history within the National Curriculum and urban space.

It is the first institutional exhibition of new work by Rosa-Johan Uddoh, an interdisciplinary artist inspired by black feminist practice and writing.

As part of the project, Rosa worked with Year Eight pupils at Chase High School in Westcliff to create performance-to-camera videos, developed through a series of workshops based on Uddoh’s written work, Windrush: A Tongue Twister.

Rosa, who is based in East London, said: “One of the things that inspired the idea was the summer of 2020 and the Black Lives Matter movement, the protests and all the conversations surrounding it.

“A subject that was really highlighted was education and looking at the Black curriculum. I became really interested in a Twitter page that had been set up about racism in schools and a lot of school age children were posting about their experiences.

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Echo: Artist Rosa-Johan Uddoh

“I started to reflect on my own experiences as a 28 year old, and what was happening today.”

Rosa said the outcome of her work with the children at the school was better than she could have hoped.

“It really was a collaborative process” she said. “They got loads out of it – a really good experience.To see them on a journey over six weeks, where they started off quite shy and then they ended up creating this collaborative piece, through to taking a tour of the gallery where they requested coffee and Pringles snacks, it was amazing and they loved it!”

Another part of the work by Uddoh investigates the historical figure of Balthazar who was, according to tradition, one of the three biblical Magi and later Saint, who visited the infant Jesus after his birth to offer the gift of myrrh.

Depicted since medieval times as a lone black figure in artistic imagery of the Nativity scene, this King is also one of the first performed encounters by school children with a black person of importance.

In connection with this exhibition, the Focal point Gallery and Book Works are pleased to launch Practice Makes Perfect, the first book by Rosa-Johan Uddoh, in partnership with Bluecoat, Liverpool and The Bower, London.

The book comprises a collection of scripts by Uddoh, each aiming to “trouble how a particular character in popular culture performs and produces “black British’ identity”.

Presented as scripts, sheet music and instructional worksheets, the reader is encouraged to insert their own experiences and interpretations, in their head or through live performances of their own.

Practice Makes Perfect is on at the Focal Point gallery in Elmer Square, Southend, until August 29.

Booking is advisable.