Your Space Or Mine

Carleen De Sözer

  • 29 June 2020
  • Words by Adrian Burnham
It’s been more than half a century since the Chicago Black Panther Party luminary Fred Hampton spoke in support of his incarcerated comrade Bobby Seale: ‘You can jail the revolutionary but you can’t jail the revolution.’ Are we now beginning to see structural and systemic social injustice radically, fundamentally challenged instead of tepidly ‘reformed’?

The latest artist to collaborate on the Your Space Or Mine street poster collaboration with the BUILDHOLLYWOOD family is Carleen de Sözer. Birmingham born but living and working in London for many years De Sözer’s practice spans tattoo design to street murals, works on canvas to CD covers, clothing to delivering numerous workshops for black female artists and young people. She’s both widely recognised and greatly admired for her figurative aerosol portraits often rendered in a classic black and golden yellow palette.

For the Your Space Or Mine street poster De Sözer has set aside her signature style and opted for a stark clenched fist design in primal colours: black, red and white. Gesture of anti-authoritarian collective resistance, the BPP focussed the symbolism of a clenched fist as a demand for black civil rights, an end to police brutality as well as the public policies and institutional practices that perpetuate injustice.

In 2018 the agency family supported The Greater London Authority and Tate Collective LDN WMN public art project, in which De Sözer painted three six metre high murals on Alexandra Palace commemorating trailblazing broadcaster Una Marson and musicians Evelyn Dove and Winifred Atwell. I was there too. The artist wowed passers-by with her freehand artistry. I moved the scaffolding but mention this to vouch for the delight people showed on chatting with De Sözer and seeing the artist in action producing such ambitious, skilful works.

In recent years, in addition to pursuing her own projects, De Sözer has worked tirelessly to encourage, teach and provide opportunities for black female artists and adolescents. When asked what she does for a living the reply is “I supply art for a living”. Whether it be her Afrofuturist paintings or the pared down and compelling street poster, De Sözer’s creations not only supply impressive visual art but also a powerful messages of hope and action.


Carleen De Sözer - Your Space Or MineCarleen De Sözer - Your Space Or MineCarleen De Sözer - Your Space Or MineCarleen De Sözer - Your Space Or Mine