five senses from my world: heather agyepong, artist

Five senses from visual and performance artist Heather Agyepong's world.

From a young age, London-based visual artist and performer Heather Agyepong hoped to become an actress and so spent a number of years training until, between the ages of 16 and 21, a period of severe depression brought this aspiration to a brief halt. While studying at the University of Kent, hours spent alone in her dorm room inspired Heather to buy a camera as a means to force herself to step outside, and soon this tool became her coping mechanism that naturally progressed into the empowering creative outlet she continues to pursue today. In her early photographs, Heather aimed to capture people’s emotions, particularly the ambiguous ones, that reflected her own internalised feelings at the time. Today, the themes of mental health, cultural representation and identity are explored in both her images and performances, each informed by Heather's own experiences and those of people from marginalised communities.

Heather is currently working on an upcoming project with Tate Exhange which will commence in Autumn 2017. Her latest exhibition Habitus will be featured as part of the Black Blossoms on Tour exhibition in September, beginning at the Royal Standard Art Gallery in Liverpool.


I feel like photography can really affect mental health so through my own work, I wanted to criticise self-reflexivity within it.

One of the reasons I didn’t tell anyone I was depressed was because of how I saw myself as a black woman, which was mainly informed by images of black people. Many of them would often be negative and I’d internalise these images, so my issues with false representation in photography is why I like to challenge this. Through my own work I ask is photography always truthful? And what exactly is left behind outside of the image?


Growing up in South London was very inspiring and I guess it's what made me so driven.

The idea of being able to ‘make it’ was a myth, it felt a bit hopeless, but I was around a lot of Afro-Caribbean communities in South who very much aimed for the top, despite their living conditions or whatever. All of the people doing great things who come from there seem to be going against the odds. Through my work, I only explore identity or representation around mine or marginalised communities experiences because this is what I know and what I am most interested in.


My perception of Ghana, where my family is from, changed for the better when I was 16.

I hated being from there because of the images I saw of the country but when I went over, it was a different story. People would often make fun of my surname because it was West African and I had a sense of shame based on preconceived ideas on how it would be. Then, in actually visiting, I  found it to be really vibrant and hard working - totally different to what I thought it would be like.


There are a number of women who encourage me and whose work I really enjoy.

I used to only look to a lot of American people for inspiration but I feel a disconnect there because they've experienced different things to what we have here in the UK and vice versa. There are a number of British women who inspire me; Olive Morris and Beverley Brian from the British Black Panther women movement that existed in Brixton in London between 1968 – 1972. I only learnt that the party existed here two years ago!


My fundamental message is very specific of the age we are in right now: don’t compare yourself to other people. 

Comparing yourself to someone else will often just make you feel bad, so hopefully my message is to realise the importance of being an individual and realise that only you can be the best version of yourself. No one else can be as good as you at being you!

This Week

making codes: behind the scenes

Take another at director Liza Mandelup's Making Codes video, a look behind the scenes at digital artist and creative director Lucy Hardcastle's piece 'Intangible Matter' that features producer Fatima Al Qadiri, artist Chris Lee and a host of more leading digital artists.

Read More

making movement: behind the scenes

Take a look behind the scenes in filmmaker Agostina Galvez’s Making Movements: a look at the making of The Pike and the Shield: Five Paradoxes with ballerina Nozomi Iijima and other leading movers and shakers from the world of dance including choreographers and dancers Holly Blakey, Aya Sato and the duo Project O. 

Read More

making films: behind the scenes

Take another look behind the scenes in director Eva Michon's Making Films with Alma Har'el video: a look at the making of JellyWolf and the current state of play within the film industry through the eyes of female filmmakers championing diversity, and Alma Har'els Free The Bid initiative. 

Read More

making images: behind the scenes

Take another look behind the scenes at photographer Harley Weir’s journey in capturing five women from around the world as well at a number of other creators defining the image of today in documentary filmmaker Chelsea McMullan’s Making Images video. 

Read More

making exhibitions: behind the scenes

Take a look behind the scenes in director Christine Yuan’s Making Exhibitions with Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel: a look at the making of Just A Second: A Digital Exhibition Curated by Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, inspired by CHANEL Nº5 L'EAU, and a look at other leading curators and collectives from the art world including BUFU, Rozsa Farkas, Fatos Ustek, Angelina Dreem and Yana Peel.

Read More

seeing sound: in conversation charlotte hatherley & carly paradis

Two of London’s most sought after figures in visually-shaped music meet.

Read More

lizzie borden: feminist trailblazer

As her magnum opus returns to UK shores, Lizzie Borden – the visionary artist behind Born in Flames – talks rebellion, feminist artistry, and her nostalgia for 70s NYC.

Read More

rebecca lamarche-vadel's
just a second

Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel is the Paris based curator for the Palais De Tokyo. Dedicated to modern and contemporary art she puts on large scale exhibitions that span installation, dance, sculpture, photography and spoken word. For The Fifth Sense she created a digital exhibition based on the transformative power of CHANEL’s Nº5 L’EAU.

Read More

reba maybury: she’s got the power

We sat down with the editor, writer and dominatrix Reba Maybury to discuss her taboo-breaking publishing house Wet Satin Press, her latest novel Dining With Humpty Dumpty and what it means to be a woman in control.

Read More